Kristen Schaal & Kurt Braunohler (4 stars)

This article is from 2008

Kristen Schaal & Kurt Braunohler

Schaal and pal delve into surreal corners

A warning is gently dispatched: Double Down Hearts will break our minds. Co-written in reverse chronological order by Kristen Schaal, of Flight of the Conchords fame, and Kurt Braunohler, her ‘gift’ of a comedy partner, the play pastiches the melodrama of Dynasty and the powerful dance scenes in every 80s teen film.

Through Tatiana’s addiction and Charlie’s physical self-obsession, Double Down Hearts wrenchingly conveys the frailty of man. Or not.

And what delightful silliness and delicious, cream-filled comedy gestures this talented duo possess. A slight lip curl, a pause or a gesture repeated have the muscle to bring the house down.

They certainly push minds into all sorts of unexpected, surreal and hitherto less travelled corners. You probably weren’t aware, for instance, that you’d be ensnared by the transcription of the first ever phone conversation, between Pocahontas and colonist John Smith, or that a dateless few months could lead to such dramatic action. The central theatrical setpiece cuts across the grain of a show that exhibits its unhinged heart on its vintage-geek sleeve with no explanation. Such unfettered daftness doesn’t need one.

Their repartee zings like sharp screwball comedy, as they bounce around rapid-fire quips and finish each other’s sentences. This chemistry is surround-sound comedy gold.

There are multimedia moments, favoured motifs – animals and Law and Order: SVU – and musical instruments, all cloaked in the gloriously filthy innocence of the mixed-up minds of Kristen and Kurt. There is no map to their world, but the alternative routes and unexpected vistas will jangle behind your eyes long after you’ve left.

Assembly Rooms, 623 3030, until 23 Aug, 9.10pm, £12.50 (£11).

Kristen Schaal and Kurt Braunohler

  • 4 stars

'Bona fide kookie monster' Schaal offers more of her surreal blend of the dark and utterly wholesome in the company of her comedy partner Braunohler. 'Part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe'.