Comedy duo Goodbear, aka Joe Barnes and Henry Perryment, return to the Fringe with their new show Dougal. However, all is not what it seems when two Pleasance staff members, Joe and Henry, apologise for the lateness of our main act in coming onstage and attempt to entertain the audience in the meantime. This inauspicious beginning leads into an hour of hilarious sketches and songs that make full use of the sound and lighting effects from the titular Dougal, the volatile sound man who lurks behind the scenes.
Particularly effective examples include an early gag involving a gun sound effect, which escalates nicely into a full blown shootout involving all manner of firearms, and a later section involving both performers fighting for control of a spotlight – the simplest material is often the best. Barnes and Perryment themselves favour crowd-pleasing skits that allow them to display their considerable comedic, acting and singing skills. A war movie parody spoofing every dying soldier scene ever filmed, and a running gag concerning a couple in love are highlights of the evening.
Both performers give it their all as they careen from one sketch to another. The transition points are often blurred and the audience is kept constantly on their toes. Every trick in the book is used to engage them, from impromptu musical numbers to an inspired audience participation moment at the climax that manages to avoid all the potential pitfalls of getting the public involved in the performance. What helps Barnes and Perryment is their shared chemistry, which allows them to skillfully play off each other and embody their multiple roles with ease.
By the end of Dougal, the two have provided the audience with enough entertainment to earn themselves a strong round of applause. There’s enough enthusiasm and energy in both of their performances to keep the show running for another hour, which bodes well for the rest of what should be another well-deserved successful Fringe run for this assured duo.