Lunchtime Theatre at The Black Box

Get a bit of culture in you instead of a cheese and onion sandwich. Your workmates will thank you

Welcome to the Black Box comedy buffet. Writer Neil A. Edwards and director Richard Irvine Lavery of Accidental Theatre have whipped up a two course lunch of comedy shorts that will delight the taste buds.

First course is Job Interview with actresses Aisling Groves-McKeown and Neseen Morgan as hapless Job Centre advisor and pyjama-clad millie respectively. With bling on her fingers and rip-off Uggs on her toes Morgan sprawls insouciantly across from Groves-McKeown’s prim and increasingly dismayed advisor.

The job of Prime Minister is up for grabs and Morgan’s millie figures, what the hell, at least applying will get the dole office off her back.

‘What are they looking for then?’ she asks.

The answer is, to the advisor's horror, someone not too unlike her client.

Morgan might never have made decisions that affect the outcome of government, but she’s had to choose whether to jack a Jeep or a Porsche. (She picked the Porsche; the peelers were still in the Jeep.) And she has no stains on her character; she washes her pyjamas at least once a fortnight.

‘Have you ever had any foreign bodies inserted in your person?’ Groves-McKeown asks primly.

Her client screws up her face in a look of sublime confusion. ‘Wot, you mean like Spanish boys?’

It’s all a bit of a culture clash for the poor advisor. Culture is at the heart of the second short, Mastermind with Fra Gunn and Charmaine Edwards, as well. In this case it is less about a clash and more about infiltration.

Mastermind is so much a part of UK culture that the spot lit black leather chair and ominous, iconic music have an almost Pavlovian effect on the psyche. Lavery has the atmosphere absolutely right, even invoking the reverential hush as Edwards announces her specialist subject.

Last week it was Russian love-spoons. This week it’s the use of foul language and epithets throughout history. Both actors play it completely straight but the audience gives a startled chuckle.

The questions range from what euphemism King Henry VIII used when he soiled himself on the way to one of his weddings to what Prince Phillip hissed at the reporters when he thought the microphone was off.

Gunn plays the role of questioner, gravely asking questions about language that would make a docker blush. It can’t have been easy but it is Edwards who is the one to watch.

Like Gunn she plays the role with conviction, but her character is more emotive than his. The audience can see the irritation pinch the bridge of her nose when she gets an answer wrong and the sigh of relief that deflates her when she gets one right.

‘Balls!’ she spits when she mixes up her epithets for one question.

‘May I remind you that we are on TV,’ Gunn says, glaring at her reprovingly.

Edwards slumps penitently and bites her lip, before answering a question about the c-word.

There is a lot of swearing in this sketch and some of it cut a little close to the knuckle. A little closer than the censored blurb where it is described as ‘ … an exploration of the sordid f****** vernacular it is being slowly undone by’ would suggest.

Of the two shorts the more successful was Job Interview, but both were entertaining enough for a Thursday lunchtime. And Morgan’s millie couldn’t do a worse job as Prime Minister than some of the other candidates.

More LunchTime Theatre Events are on at The Black Box

Tammy Moore