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Review: Cream Tea and Incest (Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre)

Updated: Sep 20, 2019

Cream Tea and Incest, a show written by Benjamin Alborough as part of Peracals Productions, makes a return to Edinburgh Fringe for the third year running. This time, however, the four-strong cast has entirely changed from all-male to all-female, putting a fresh spin on an old show.

It is a quirky comedy, set in upper-class England, which follows boisterous aristocrat Eddie Spangler and his sharp-witted valet Jeffery on their mission to trick Lord Wiggins into cutting taxes on Spanglers Rhodesian opium plantations. Not that the narrative in this performance matters all that much. The focus is more on the ridiculous nature of the characters themselves, rather than the story.

It feels as if there's a slight mismatch in style within the piece. Some of the comedy is almost childlike in its nature, being simplistic in its creation and delivery, whereas in other parts the comedy is smart scientifically or relevant politically. What you end up with is a performance wherein some parts are Monty Python levels of ridiculousness, obvious and accessible and others where, for me, it feels like the writer is trying to showcase their intelligence.

From the outset, the cast punches the audience in the face with energy. They blaze through the piece at break-neck speeds and do so with skill and clarity, everything can be heard and understood despite the rapidity of the performance. This speed, however, in combination with some clever for clever's sake comedy, results in a good chunks of the casts witty one-liners going straight over the audiences head.

All of the actors in this piece do their characters commendable levels of justice. They all showcase amazing characterisation for each of their roles and prove emphatically that they are all insanely talented. Rosalind Seal as Biggins, however, is the standout performer for me. Her comedic timing and energy never fail to get a laugh and her rapport with the audience is instantaneous and upheld throughout.

The purely cardboard-and-sharpie made props in this piece are simply ingenious. The elevate the level of farce and help to drive home the ridiculousness of the piece. My personal favourite is Spangler's suitcase and its contents, which create some moments of brilliant dry humor.

Cream Tea and Incest is a unique comedy show, with a lot of heart. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, but if you're looking for an hour of fun sprinkled with complete nonsense, then this is the show for you.

Cream Tea and Incest is on at Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre - Basement at 12:45, until 25th August. Tickets available here -

Review by Craig Unadkat

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