Rich in bodily fluids and fully embracing the silliness of the concept, this is an upbeat, exhausting piece of physical theatre. Against a backdrop of said fluids and unseemly noises, Gut Buddies explores the unlikely friendship of a parasitic worm with a drink problem and a rookie white blood cell standing guard against attack.
Proudly dressed all in white, it’s Brian’s first day on the job stopping intruders in the intestines and he’s keen to do everything by the book. Along slithers Karl, a veteran worm with daddy issues and a hefty bloodsucking habit. Will the lure of promotion prove too much for Brian or will it be Karl’s nihilist urge towards self-destruction that will test their bond to the limits?
Set in a vaguely authoritarian regime run by the brain, it only gets more surreal as the duo begin cleaning the guts with the kind of gusto and sound effects that would please most five year-olds. The performers interact happily with the audience throughout, throwing themselves into the energetic show despite extremely sweaty working conditions, and show some clear dedication to their craft.
It’s light on plot, with more of an emphasis on clowning around the set and getting giggles from the room. A lot of the time the audience are presented with Brian miming, climbing, swimming, and falling his way through all sorts of viscera, which some people might find quite grating. There’s peril in the form of a mysterious anti-parasite but the show doesn’t manage, or possibly particularly care about, creating anything in the way of suspense.
For a piece of lightly scatological slapstick that will entertain family members of all ages or for those who particularly like absurd comedy, Gut Buddies produces a respectable number of laughs. It’s not exactly Ibsen and there’s not much depth to it, but a confident performance and a fun concept save the day.