Molly Stewart

Edinburgh Fringe review: Max & Ivan, The End

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The End is another amazingly well put together comedy from Max Olesker and Ivan Gonzalez, that is as high-scoring in laughs as it is in poignant, wholly captivated moments.

Max and Ivan’s The End is packed with jokes – one-liners, smart punchlines to unassuming build-ups, call-backs throughout and some hilarious visual and audio gags. The writing skills of the pair is showcased perfectly, without ever seeming too much.

Max and Ivan are particularly skilled in delivering beautifully tender moments amidst physical comedy mayhem in a world of characters that range from being just completely, fabulously silly to almost grotesque.

As with their show The Reunion, the central relationship – while never failing to facilitate clever and familiar laughs in equal measure – is a source of heartfelt poignancy that is never saccharine or overused.

What Max and Ivan are so good at doing is present the perfect ratio of hilariously ridiculous characters – the self-appointed poet laureate of Sudley-On-Sea; the cult that worships the snake God – to storylines we the audience want to grasp onto, with a true sense of emotive involvement.

Audience participation (particularly in a structured narrative show such as this) is a risky business. Presumably with the wrong member of the audience, the fantastic segments of The End involving the loveable, excruciatingly awkward Billy on a karaoke date with (this time) Ilana, could be genuinely painful to watch.

It can’t be predicted how much an audience member will want to make the show about them. However Max and Ivan – with thought track and prompts – keep things tight. To her credit, Ilana-from-the-front-row, was a sensible, and actually very likeable selection.

As well, the production value of the piece is incredibly high. The pair seem to choose never to overcomplicate the whole thing; but sharp, simple lighting and sound (as well as some smart audio gags, like a clap-on/clap-off shed sound system), and some genuinely impressive shadow puppetry (including fireworks…) and silhouette cut-outs finish what already is a brilliantly sharp piece of comedy theatre.

Ivan’s turn as an interpretive dance helicopter is, naturally, completely hilarious; but the impressively home-made props involved in the bridge crash scene are actually… really cool?

The applause the show garners at the end is a telling confirmation of how successful Max and Ivan consistently are at not only entertaining an audience but completely capturing their emotions.

The finale is subtlety realised; heartbreaking until the end, while remaining consistently, smartly funny. Brilliant show.

Date of live review: Thursday 20 August 2015, 8:20pm @ Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh

Click to read all our 2015 Edinburgh Fringe coverage so far.