As Ethel Merman famously sang in
Whether you’re laughing from amusement or out of shock, you’re still laughing
The Twins Macabre’s personas are those of Maurice and Ivy Macabre, child psychics raised in a circus and orphaned as a result of a tragic, fire-based ‘accident’. Having removed all adult influence from their lives, they now live together in their nursery-prison, a place that we the audience have been unlucky enough to stumble into.
The creepy Gothic-child schtick employed by the Twins is one that could potentially run a little stale if overexploited. But the seance theme of Small Medium at Large allows Carter and Rhys-Davies to stretch their dramatic legs and show off their range as they proceed to be inhabited by a variety of different characters. Unlike many other comedy shows, Small Mediums at Large features a range of different skills: from song, dance and acting to a truly unique piece of beatboxing from Maurice. My personal favourites were the accurately jaunty torch song My Husband Lost His Face in the War and the excellent Dislocation, Location, Location.
As you might expect from a show centred around two murderous moppets, the humour is dark. But what does come as a surprise is just how dark it is. Both flashbacks to the Twins’ dealings with figures of authority are convincingly grim, as is the seemingly-upbeat musical number Shady Oaks. After all, whether you’re laughing from amusement or out of shock, you’re still laughing. Only in one sketch does this darkness feel like it may have gone too far and even here, it is turned around at the last minute. Still, the close confines of Pleasance will have you feeling appropriately nervous - the perfect mood in which to watch the Macabres.
There are a few bum notes amongst the rapid-fire sketches, but overall Small Mediums at Large is a darkly-hilarious, nerve-jangling comedy rampage. Leave the sun behind and venture in. But please, don’t have any nightmares.