The posters for Beau Zeaux seem to promise an improvised send-up of whimsy—a collection of Wes Anderson-esque characters, who you might hope to see in a variety of ridiculous and ego-puncturing scenarios. In reality, the show is not so fixed. Setting and story change daily in these character-driven comic plays. It’s a solid example of seasoned improv performers crafting a coherent story from the collective mind of the audience, but it doesn’t aspire to be anything more.
This particular performance starts of in ‘Tiny Italy’—a hitherto unknown ghetto of Musselburgh—and takes in stabbing tools, the web of secrets and lies behind Greggs Bakery, and an over-abundance of panettone. It’s sharp, completely barmy and manages (just about) to get back to where it started. The actors—adept at terrible Italian accents, bricklaying and eating terrifying amounts of pastry—clearly know what they’re doing, and take delight in trying to crack each other up, as does the audience when one of them succeeds.
The one element that doesn’t quite work is the nudging of events by offstage questions. The disembodied voice of Deborah Frances White helps set the scene at the beginning, but after a while the interventions begin to feel unnecessary. There are also too many plots left hanging, meaning that some jokes are in want of a punch-line. Small niggles really, but without them, the show, especially considering the calibre of the performers, has the potential to be so much more.