WITH the front row of the audience decked out in plastic maps to protect them from the flying baked beans, custard pies and water, ‘Never Try This At Home’ is the warning coming from the Traverse this week, as Told By An Idiot Theatre Company bring their latest, very messy, production to the Capital.
Described as ‘a disturbing homage to Saturday morning TV,’ and inspired by the legendary Tiswas with a bit of Going Live thrown in for good measure, Never Try This At Home reunites the remaining survivors of the infamous (fictional) TV show Shushi.
Shushi was a programme so anarchic that adults and children alike watched in their millions. Until one fatal transmission in which the female presenter was pushed over the edge; an obsessive fan resorted to desperate measures; and Phil Collins was locked in his dressing room.
Heading the cast is acclaimed comedian and improviser Niall Ashdown, playing... Niall Ashdown, a seedy and unscrupulous documentary maker interviewing everyone involved in Shushi, from presenters and producers to runners and fans.
“I was drawn to Never Try This At Home as I was already a huge fan of the work of Told By An Idiot, in particular their unsentimental and exhilarating way of engaging audiences directly, with great humour and passion,” he says.
With local house bands and Shushi footage re-enacted live on stage, Never Try This At Home is by turns, an hilarious, violent and disturbing exposé of the world of TV and celebrity.
Ashdown explains, “This show is very relevant to our times.
“It celebrates and embraces the anarchy and hilarity of a much-loved genre of TV, but it also has its enormous fun against the backdrop of a time when adults behaving badly was far from limited to what happened on-screen.
“I am hugely enjoying this mixture of the naive and the cynical, of the potty and the profane. And audiences (whether they remember shows like Tiswas or not) seem to be loving it too, even those game enough to brave the front row. Mess-proof ponchos are provided...”
Formed in 1993, Told By An Idiot has gained an international reputation for its comic and highly original productions, so, if you normally dress up for a night at the theatre, you might just want to think again on this occasion.
• Never Try This At Home, Traverse Theatre, Cambridge Street, tonight-Saturday, 7.30pm, £8-£15.50, 0131-228 1404