Review for 14 August
There was a general buzz of excitement as the near capacity audience took their seats for The EU Explained (17.05, Cabaret Voltaire until 23rd Aug, not 20th ) the other day. Looking back I wonder just what they were expecting – not what they got, presumably, judging by the slow and steady vacating of seats as the show progressed. First to go was a bonkers gibberish-singing Italian guy sat at the back, who I felt sure was going to climb over the audience – Roberto Benigni style – and become part of the show. Unfortunately he shut up and left before it even started. Next deserter was a young Chinese girl who had never seen a Fringe show and had asked to tag along with us; she lasted until the end of the opening piece: a sing-a-long version of Ode to Joy which no-one sang-a-long to. It was hard to fathom who was being made fun of here – people who can’t speak German, people who can’t speak a second language or anyone – Germans included – who don’t know the words to Ode to Joy. But that seemed to be the problem with the show – unsure of its targets or even its target audience. Not to mention a serious issue regarding the actual quality of the material itself – it’s all quite niche and the kind of thing that probably seemed hilarious sketched out in the European Commission canteen. The promo material does mention pie-charts and graphs and – no kidding – that’s pretty much what we got, along with some ‘humorous’ songs which laboured the old ignorant-Brits-abroad bit and some hideously complicated multilingual sing-a-longs which only served to further alienate the audience.
It’s a shame because there is a germ of a good idea there and the initial audience numbers prove there is an interest in the subject matter, but this is a show in definite need of a makeover– make it a bit more unhinged and Eurotrash-y, perhaps? Or get the bonkers Italian guy back in and make him part of the show – that might do it!