By Colin Flaherty
Uncle Orwell’s Doomsday Party is described as “a loose 50 minutes of live and pre-recorded sketch”, so loose in fact that it regularly makes for an incoherent mess. A lot of it is silliness for silliness sake but those hoping for a clear plot will probably come away from this show confused and disappointed.
The main plot involved us being in a bunker with conspiracy theorist and survivalist Uncle Orwell (Matt Jenner) and the naïve Nathaniel (Simon McCulloch), watching them bicker and interact with what was left of the outside world. The strong introductory video set up this world in decline brilliantly, so hopes were high for an engaging and amusing story. Alas this was not always the case with many ideas quickly abandoned without resolution and only a handful of belly laughs to be found.
Sketches both live and filmed unashamedly borrowed from various movies and television shows, and regularly outstayed their welcome as catchphrase fatigue set in. They did nothing particularly clever with these tropes with the singular joke behind them being recognition and their absurdity when stripped of their original context. They regularly ignored all logic set out for this world which made things even messier.
The concept of having multiple CCTV cameras throughout the neighbourhood was a clever device to hang all their unrelated sketches on the central plot and introduced many additional characters to this two hander. It was a shame that nothing particularly amusing was done with these eccentric souls, many existing solely for the “Animal House” styled montage at the end.
There were some instances of audience banter which could have been an interesting method of creating an immersive atmosphere. A Christian zealot dealing out salvation to punters had some fun interactions but all other instances resulted in awkward exchanges with Jenner that didn’t really go anywhere, save for a few lame call backs.
The most frustrating thing about this performance was the delivery of dialogue by Jenner. They were aiming for a gruff, unhinged loner, but sitting through this nod to “Rick and Morty” for fifty minutes was a form of cruel and unusual punishment. It was so rambling and stilted that he gave the appearance of either always working off the cuff, struggling to come up with witty lines, or having no talent for remembering and delivering his lines. At least McCulloch was there to propel the plot forward with his understandable end of the dialogue.
The best way to enjoy this show was to park your brain and let the absurdity wash over you. Anyone looking deeper and not familiar with this duo’s viewing habits would only find frustration.
Uncle Orwell’s Doomsday Party is on The Improv Conspiracy until October 2