Detention (3 stars)

This article is from 2012


Mr Bean meets Olympic gymnastics: physical comedy, Hong Kong style

Hong Kong show Detention is a highly accomplished example of a form of physical comedy that is extremely popular in east Asia. If you haven’t encountered this kind of work on the Edinburgh Fringe in the past, think Mr Bean crossed with Olympic gymnastics.

Set in a school detention room (which, suspend your disbelief, has its own music system, complete with MP3 dock), the piece sees three young boys compete for the attentions of a lone female pupil. All that stands between them and a beating from their violent female teacher is the latter’s delight about a romantic liaison.

The show’s combination of innovative percussion, Chinese martial arts and slapstick humour is typical of the genre. So, too, is its garish, populist aesthetic.

Incidentally, don’t assume that the audience member brought on stage as an extra pupil is a stooge. As I discovered to my cost, in Seoul, a few years ago, east Asian physical theatre companies (like British stand-up comedians) do pick on the unsuspecting.

Summerhall, 0845 874 3001, until 26 Aug (not 13, 20), 1pm, £12 (£10).


  • 3 stars

Detention, a non-verbal comedy combined with powered acrobatics, off-the-wall clowning and throbbing percussion, is about three naughty high school boys chasing a beautiful female classmate around in a detention class, but because their short-tempered teacher frequently checks in on them, they must be very careful while…

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