Two figures stand in the dull half-light spilling over from the bar. They speak in a haunting, existential whale-song that feels almost Hallowe’en-appropriate as it bounces around the wide-empty auditorium. “Are we good? Am I goooooooooood?” they repeat, as the blinking lights momentarily reveal their faces, as they search for signal, and validation, and a pair of office chairs. Then suddenly a blinding white light and we’re off: it’s the Barry and Barry show, and the two radio hosts begin to fire off their endless inane chatter into the radio void. Their appearance is somewhat Michael Fish-esque, but the dynamic is far more Chuckle Brothers, endlessly repetitive, seemingly aimless, and absurdly funny. This is Moot Moot.

The show is constructed like this: first, the duo finds some aspect of talk-show chatter that, out of context, sniffs of the existential. Then they repeat it. And repeat it. And repeat it. Small variations emerge; they find a joke, or a pattern, or a game, and then they play it to death. How long can you repeat one phrase? How many times can you use one punchline? How many ways are there of sitting on an office chair? Barry (Rosana Cade) and Barry (Ivor MacAskill) have seemingly endless patience, and the company are masterful in finding the humour in this, juxtaposing the crazed antics of the hosts with the deeper loneliness of their existence.

Moot Moot pushes this comedy up to and beyond its limits. When each segment hits its stride, the show is hysterical, but they often take a while to warm up and struggle to find a decisive ending, fizzling out or seeping into one another. And there’s a small drop, a clenching “here we go again” every time we hear the jingle play and the duo launch into yet another skit. I’m not sure if this is a criticism, though. Once a sketch has run its course, and the whole thing unwinds into the quiet white noise of pointless back and forth, there are moments of real, aggressive, grating dullness; moments where we suddenly and shockingly feel the loneliness, the isolation, the desperation for someone, anyone, to talk to, to listen to, the meaninglessness, the nothingness, of Barry and Barry.

Still, what do I know? The man sat behind me cried with laughter the whole way through. Whether you find Moot Moot to be a cutting and insightful piece on the need to be heard, the need to listen, the need to reach outside yourself, or just a laugh-a-minute farce (or both), it’s categorically worth witnessing. I’ve had worse Hallowe’ens.

4/5

Theatre Editor
Matt has just finished four years of mathematics at University College London, and is now taking the logical next step of pursuing a career in theatre. As well as an avid critic, he is a passionate director and producer, with credits including Protest Song at the Camden People's Theatre and Rhinoceros at The Shaw.

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