Max & Ivan: The Reunion makes certain to present itself as an extremely silly show, and it is an extremely silly show. What it takes pains to obfuscate is the bittersweet, but genuinely affecting, narrative through-line. This is the show’s second run at the Fringe, and it deserved one. Focussing on Earth’s most sickly and afflicted man, Paul, the story leaps from the present to the past and back again, as his life-long feelings for school-friend Jessica resolve themselves at the titular reunion.
Built around this is a messy, intricate flow-chart of characters and events. What’s most impressive is how no B or C story exists independently of the rest. Characters, times, and flashbacks are cleverly colour-coded by the stage lighting in lieu of costume changes. Seeing the duo hop from ego to ego, often playing 2 characters each in the same scene, is a testament to what can be achieved by body language and scripting alone.
Having said that, it would benefit from a larger cast, but even here Max & Ivan make it work for them by making a joke of their constant darting around the stage as they switch from character to character. Bit of a cheap fix, but it works.
Quite grim in places – there’s a lot more death than you’d expect for a start – The Reunion has a special knack for exposing the inner workings of a character’s psyche, teasing laughs out of frequently uncomfortable subject matter.
Several musical segments and inventive, recurring audience participation signpost themselves throughout. There’s never a slow moment, and the whole thing has this unstoppable forward momentum that culminates in a lovely, albeit sad, finale.
Apparently, there’s a Channel 4 BLAPS adaption, which I haven’t seen, and it certainly feels like the sort of thing that would work great on film. In any case it certainly works at the Pleasance Queen Dome, and fans of the extremely daft shouldn’t miss the chance to catch it there for the second time.