Men with Coconuts is a title that raises many questions. Is it a real coconut-based comedy? Or are the coconuts metaphorical, representing a deep, sublime, comical truth? What does it all mean? The answer is: not a lot. It’s just a bit of fun. The entirely improvised show – performed by Harry Gooch, Charlie Hindley, Steve Worsley and Nick Lauener on the piano – is all just a bit of fun.
Several improvised games feed off suggestions from the audience, taking the players from a holy brothel client to Alan Rickman’s musical sledgehammer. As the name suggests, Men with Coconuts is a show that indulges in the ridiculous.
Highlights include the re-enactment of a spectating couple’s first date. Playing on real events from the audiences’ lives gives the show a personal, tailored aspect. Not to mention the hilarious accuracies and exaggerations, which are brought to the surface by the honking horn of lies or tooting chicken of truth throughout the sketch.
The real belter of the show, however, was the final game: a completely improvised musical. From one audience suggestion, the players constructed, sung and accompanied an entire mini musical without hesitation. This is the part that really makes you wonder how on earth they can really make this up on the spot. It also allows Hindley to showcase his astonishing vocal range, and Gooch to maximise his brilliantly lanky physical comedy, which is strong throughout the show.
There are almost as many improv shows at the Fringe as there are flyers. So what makes this one stand out? Well, each contributor in the audience gets to keep a coconut at the end. Besides that, there’s not a lot. Gooch jokes that the show is much like a coconut: hard to get into and bitterly disappointing. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: easily entertaining, enjoyable and undeniably impressive. Subversive, innovative and challenging it is not. Most of all, it’s a safe bet. And sometimes in the Fringe that makes a nice change.