Arnold is a performance artist whose only tragedy thus far in life is the idyllic upbringing he enjoyed – hardly a rich source of drama and tension. Meanwhile Miles, a comedian who relies overly on kitchen utensils in his prop comedy, is still reeling from a bad break-up. Together they must overcome the odds, as well as an incompetent stage manager, and perform their one-man shows. On the same stage. At the same time.
The ‘stage manager’ opens the show with adverts for shows that are the “Fringe of the Fringe”, before introducing Arnold in Suburbia. A background hum of suburban life plays as a man in black opens with an overly dramatic monologue about how his sensitivity was usurped by his unlucky talent for sports, and how a kindergarten spat on 9/11 killed his childhood.
This obnoxious performance is interrupted by a slightly scruffy man in a Hawaiian shirt and shorts storming on to the stage apologising for being late. The stage manager has accidentally given them both the same slot; there aren’t any others, so they must share the time and the space. It is decided to split the show into segments swapping the performers each time. Miles cheats at rock, paper, scissors and goes first.
Miles, in the most structured improv sketch you’re likely to see, pulls a man and a woman from the audience. The man is sent to cook dinner in the corner, while the woman goes on a really uncomfortable blind date with Miles who can’t seem to shut up about his ex. The man selected was a little reluctant to participate but he ended up stealing the whole sketch, much to the amusement of both the cast and the audience.
Needless to say, it doesn’t take long before even basic civility between the two breaks down. They bluntly point out the flaws in each other’s work and general character. In fact, this was perhaps done a little too well, as they thoroughly convinced me that they were the worst of the Millennial stereotypes – over-privileged, self-indulgent, man-babies – with few redeeming qualities.
It is only after the ensuing insults and mockery that the pair realise that they have a lot in common and could learn from one another. This would be a heart-warming moment if it weren’t for the fact that both characters come across as insufferably smug.
The performance art is intentionally over-wrought and the comedy is intentionally over-reliant on puns, the better for each to mock the other. Overall the show is amusing and the performers both likeable, but it does walk a fine line between maintaining humour and being infuriatingly bad.