Martin and Duncan are horrified to discover that the new owner of their local pub, Franc, has decided to turn it into a ‘pub-themed café’. Coming to the, incorrect, conclusion that Franc is French they decide to make his life a misery. What follows is an increasingly bizarre series of events that will leave you more confused than amused.
Duncan is reminiscent of Al Murray’s pub landlord, but without the cheeky charm. There are occasional glimpses of sophistication, but these don’t gel well with his bullying attitude and unusual fixation on Franc. Martin, meanwhile, is gullible and naïve and follows Duncan’s lead, and suffers from his own odd character volte-faces. These two unlikable figures provide or set up the many jokes and comedy scenarios.
Some of these are great – especially the fun approach to subtitles, and a wonderful charity skit involving moles – but most aren’t funny, with a few bordering perilously close to being out-and-out offensive. The randomness of the scenarios is completely illogical, but they are not absurdist enough to be interesting or funny within themselves. The unnatural flow between the segments is jarring and distracting, and the sometimes-clever wordplay would benefit from being the focus, instead of simply reacting to the odd situations.
The acting, though enthusiastic, is a little uneven. Martin and Duncan play off each other well but Franc seems a little unsteady in his performance. However, when Franc performs the songs (written by Nathan Brown), he completely changes: the well-written songs are used as a bridge between the acts, recapping important events and setting up the next scenario, and are a real highlight of the show.
The pacing is good and there’s a promising premise, but it is let down by odd, strange scenarios and loutish characters that offer little charm. The comedic set-ups come thick and fast, but relatively few of the jokes are solid hits. Frog’s Legs is a misfire that, nevertheless, shows real promise for young writer Hughie Shepherd- Cross’s future work.