4 Minute Warning is very close to being what it wants to be. What it wants to be is a comedy snapshot of the end of days, portraying a myriad of bizarre and undignified scenarios that could occur when people get the news armageddon is on the way. It’s a little ambitious, and while it seems redundant I can’t help but feel it would actually work better televised. I’m sure those involved could indulge in similarly wishful thinking, but 4 Minute Warning is ultimately a decent show that gets it kicks from silliness and awkward situations.
What seems to plague 4 Minute Warning most is a lack of cast. Things would have been smoother with one or two more members, but the duo of Daniel Collard and Sasha Ellen do an admirable job as a pair. Sketches, which are mostly short and punchy, range from a pair of cockroaches delighted at the fall of civilisation, to a litany of couples experiencing rather ungainly final moments. There’s a lot Mitchell and Webb, and Peep Show in the DNA of 4 Minute Warning and fans of that duo will find most to like.
Many sketches begin with an announcement of the end that acts as a kind of refrain, as well as a partitions between scenes, and they indulge in a little meta-humour with it, even if it can get a little repetitive. There was some shaky delivery here and there, and some of the weaker crowd interaction segments felt like they needed a bit of fallback in case things didn’t quite work out, as was occasionally the case.
I’m inclined to give 4 Minute Warning the benefit of the doubt and suggest that after a few more performances wrapped up it could run much slicker, but as I saw it things felt a bit unpolished. The show gains a lot of goodwill for an explosive and hilarious penultimate sketch, followed by an actually kind of sweet and poignant finish.
Could do with some work but all told an enjoyable, mischievous look at the end of the world.
★★★ (and a half)