If you’re looking to see something truly experimental and bizarre, You Are Frogs is the show for you! Written by Bora Kyung Min Lee and Colin Yeo (California Institute of the Arts students), this show was first premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe last summer. A new production directed by Joel Stanley is now being shown at the Burton Taylor Studio -and boy, is it surreal.
You Are Frogs centres on the lives of two frogs – Mabel and Garry. Neurotic and anxious Mabel spends most of their time ironing and going to school (though what exactly they’re learning remains ambiguous throughout), while Garry struggles with ill health. The relationship between the two frogs is unclear, but it is obvious the frogs are strongly connected and dependent on one another. When puppet Bill enters their lives, their relationship becomes complicated as Bill falls in love with Mabel, making Gary green with envy – yes, if you’re into puns this is the show for you, too.
Mabel and Garry are played hilariously by Tamsin Sandford Smith and Gemma Daubeney respectively. Their failure to communicate properly leads to much hilarity, but also becomes quite draining as the same themes of domesticity and illness are rehashed scene after scene. Especially in combination with the eerie background music, the audience is made to feel uncomfortable from the very start. It is very powerful when comedy can induce this feeling of distress in its viewers, but becomes rather exhausting when submitted to it for 45 minutes.
The show relies much on the actors’ talents for physical comedy: as Bill (Gregor Roach) falls increasingly ill and flops about the place, he incites the biggest laughs of the show. However, the same motions were repeated a lot throughout the piece. In a show where the only characters are two frogs and a puppet, I expected more creativity in physical theatre and use of the space. In other words, a larger focus on choreography could have really pulled this production together.
While this show is a real breath of fresh air, it quickly becomes a bit repetitive and tiring. Though the actors’ great comic performances still make this an entertaining, and very bizarre, night out!