Funny (2 stars)

This article is from 2009.

There’s a great idea behind Tim Nunn’s new play for Glasgow’s Reeling & Writhing about the army’s use of humour to interrogate suspects. Instead of tackling the clash of comedy and combat head on, however, the playwright gets distracted by his back-story about a comedian being drafted into the Middle East and finishes the play at the very point it should begin.

Assembly @ 7 Holyrood Road, 623 3030, until 30 Aug (not 18), 2pm & 6pm, £9.50–£11.50 (£7.50–£9.50).


  • 2 stars

A soldier, a terrorist and a comedian walk into a bar. The landlord says, 'What's this, a joke?' 'Funny' is based on real stories from secret places. The closer it gets to the truth the less you're going to believe.


1. Steve Bottoms13 Aug 2009, 12:51pm Report

I'm sorry, Mark Fisher, but you're wrong. Dead wrong, and dismissive with it. Were you watching the same play that I and my friends found so gripping and disturbing in previews? You say the show should begin where it ends - so that would be, at the point where an army interrogator is about to begin questioning an Islamic extremist, using twisted humour as a tool? In other words, you're saying we should have yet another dubious dramatic representation of an Islamic extremist, instead of concentrating on the real issue at stake in this play - which is the extent to which we in the UK are prepared to go in the interrogation of suspected terrorists. This is the very issue that's been in the news lately - "were MI6 complicit in rendition?" This show explores, through careful investigation of available sources (the writer clearly knows what he is talking about), that not only MI6 but the regular armed forces are engaged regularly in interrogations that many of us civilians would regard as torturous. And equally to the point, the show explores these questions very engagingly, through a mix of drama, comedy and clever stagecraft - and a central performance from an increasingly demented soldier/clown which really has to be seen. And very importantly, the show does NOT put the terrorist suspect on stage. Indeed, his absence makes his "presence" on the other side of a certain cell door all the more resonant. The show ends with that door opening in an eerie shaft of light, and our anti-hero uttering the line, "Knock knock..." Like the show as a whole, this conclusion is both chilling and darkly funny, and it asks the audience to fill in the blanks ("who's there?") and do some work for themselves... Maybe you should have done a little thinking yourself, Mr. Fisher.

2. Misselly13 Aug 2009, 6:30pm5 stars Funny Report

I have to agree with Steve from Leeds and think that Mr. Fisher has reached his cynical and dismissive peak far to early in the festival proceedings.
Not only is 'Funny' worth going to for the outstanding performances by 3 talented actors, but the stage craft and ingenuity of direction are worth the ticket price alone! As a teacher of Drama I find both of these elements pretty high on my tick-list of things I enjoy about watching theatre and 'Funny' delivered it in spades, and I haven't even started on the brilliantly witty, intelligent script!
In a day and age when producing theatre is becoming financially harder by the second and we have a Goverment who seem to take more and more money away from small theatre companies, thank the Lord we still have the talent and commitment of companies like 'Reeling & Writhing', who repeatedly challenge audiences with the diversity and depth of their work.
I personally have recommended this show as the one to see at the Fringe this year. I was both entertained and challenged after watching this show and I thoroughly enjoyed the 'de-brief' in the Holyrood next door after the show, which is credit to how much this show makes you think.

3. Robert F Mack17 Aug 2009, 2:23pm Report

I too add my voice to those who find Mr. Fisher's review lacking in observational width and critical perspective. I need not repeat- but merely echo- the sentiments of the two previous posters with regard to his invective. What galls me the most is the fact that Tommy Mullins' stand-out performance isn't even mentioned. The man pulled off a performance of the most demanding nature, full of variety and energy, menace and madness, and deserves to be accorded the attention his work merits.

One wonders how many other fine pieces of work never receive the praise or audiences they merit due to ill-informed and shabby reviews.

Post a comment

RSS feed of these comments