Reich and Downie are back for the second year running at the FringeBELLA DALLISTON

Manhunt 2: Big Mood certainly does what it says on the tin. Written, directed and performed by Leo Reich and Emmeline Downie, it is an incredibly relatable show, loosely based on the premise of job hunting. The plot follows out-of-work aspiring actors Emm and Leo when they re-meet by chance while waiting for an interview for the same job. Interwoven into this storyline are quirky and original sketches, ranging from their Love Island parody “Sex Desert” to a mockery of “young business people”. All are spot-on in their imitations of real life and gain a lot of their humour from Reich and Downie’s commitment and bravery in pushing their ideas to the extremes. There was an excellent and well-considered structure, with jokes consistently referenced across sketches, and the youthful quality of their humour means that the jokes were current, relevant and seldom stale. 

Reich and Downie work incredibly well together, endlessly bouncing and building off each other, with outstanding comedic timing. Their stage presence and energy enable them to carry the audience through the show without losing their focus or dropping a single joke. Particular praise must go to the attention to detail, for example in their synchronised speaking when talking about their “creative differences”. The exaggerated characterisations of themselves are endlessly funny and charmingly irreverent, with some great lines that turned sketches completely around, pushing them to the limits of the absurd but without ever feeling incongruous. One standout moment was  Downie embodying “Belopé”, the middle-aged dog salesperson on ‘Sex Desert’, due to the sheer creativity behind the invention of such a ridiculous character and the incorporation of this into their Love Island parody. 

Reich and Downie work incredibly well together, with outstanding comedic timing. 

The duo used a Powerpoint very effectively to guide the audience through their various sketches, as well as using an audio voice-over, which worked to great comedic effect, designed and operated by Lucia Revel-Chion. One particularly entertaining scene involved the voice over acting as an internal monologue for Leo in an interview.

The one slight criticism I have for them is that occasionally the sketches became a little bit repetitive and predictable, perhaps because of the very specific focus of the show on the struggle of job-hunting. While bringing a precise focus to sketch comedy is often an effective way to give the show some sort of narrative, this similarity between scenes was even more true for the “present day” sections that became almost tedious by the end. Overall, they could have benefited from slightly more variety between their scenes. Moreover, I worry that their humour sometimes ran the risk of being overly exclusive to the millennial generation, although it was occasionally very poignant.


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Mountain View

Manhunt review

 

All in allManhunt 2: Big Mood was certainly enjoyable and the pair clearly have an incredible amount of comedic talent. Their comedy is fast-paced and interesting, demonstrating lots of potential, though it doesn’t quite have the uniqueness or range that would have made this a truly stunning production. 

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