It should be well known by now, if you’re heading into Heroes of the Hive, don’t expect your run of the mill stand-up and BBC fodder ready show. One of its early shows of the day, Adam Larter’s Return on Investment is a daily catalyst for the buffoonery and madcap comedy that echoes throughout the day in the Hive. Larter, one of the main heads and driving force behind the Weirdo’s, a London based collective of alternative leaning comics, (John Kearns, Matthew Highton, Ali Brice, Pat Cahill to name a few) who have a fairly prolific output of one off plays and pantomimes throughout the years, has brought a ‘play’ that features a lot of traditional Weirdo hallmarks that makes a good introduction to the imagination of Adam Larter for those unaware.
Return on Investment is set in the late 80’s about Miami Vice inspired Glenn Fiscal, riding high in the corporate world and is all about ‘business’. Accompanied by cast members and fellow Weirdos, Marny Godden, Lucy Pearman and Joz Norris, who make up the fellow office members who like the set of ridiculous (deliberate) cheap cardboard props, all represent 80’s clichés with an extra panache of hyperbole accompanied by 80’s anthems brimming with synth.
Smooth and tight are not familiar traits with anything I have seen of Larter’s making and there is often confusion, missed lines or cues from the sound tech, props falling that make it, at times, a joyful shambles but other times calling for a bit of refinement. As a ‘play’ the narrative is thinner than a slice of cheese in a Wimpy burger and giving the constraint of an hour and less than normal number of cast members, there are fewer colourful characters and cameos that often provide an injection of the sheer ridiculous, which tend to provide stand-out moments like previous shows.
Giving the time of the show, most likely a first show of the day for most, there is a disadvantage of people not being warmed up for it and being familiar with the anarchy, I was waiting to be really struck with a moment of out there brilliant nonsense, which does come eventually with the introduction of a certain clarinet player, with other standout highlights coming with some familiar eighties business drug taking and Lucy Pearman as a drive-thru attendant.
For the familiar, Return on Investment may not be Larter’s most stand-out piece, but it is a good introduction to his brand of whimsical, referential, sheer daft and feel good comedy that has garnered a bit of a cult following south of the border, that will warm your chops off in the early hours of the day.
★★★ (and a half)