Triple Espresso is the name of an act and a show which is subtitled ‘a highly caffeinated comedy.’ The programme tells us that three ‘highly successful’ solo performers decided to write some material that they could perform together. It is this material that developed into “Triple Espresso”, which we are told has been packing American audiences into theatres for the last six years.
Bill Arnold (Buzz Maxwell) a magician, Michael Pearce Donley (Hugh Butternut) a musician, and Bob Stromberg (Bobby Bean), a physical comedian perform a mixture of slapstick, vaudeville acts with some audience participation.
There are a few golden moments, but not many! Bob Stromberg provides most of the entertainment with some clever shadow puppetry of a gorilla, a dog and rabbit, Bambi and even his dad! He also does a neat physical comedy sketch in which he makes it seem as if his head is sliding across his shoulders.
Michael Donley has a cheesy grin that is ingratiatingly annoying, Bob Stromberg is the funny man who is simply not funny (with the exception of the two sketches already referred too) and Bill Arnold is the magician one would most like to see disappear! The programme notes say that they hope to “give audiences a night at the theatre unlike any they’d experienced before”. Sadly for them they have succeeded, but for the wrong reasons. I often felt embarrassed on their behalf as they appeared to be a well-meaning trio who genuinely believe that they are funny and beam with self-confidence at an almost sickening level, and yet are painfully unfunny.
The trio act out a story of how they first met and the many disappointments that they have experienced. And so we watch them act out their failed programme on Cable Zaire, the gig they performed in the loos of the Royal Albert Hall, and Hugh’s Butternut’s attempt to win a talent show called a ‘Cavalcade of stars’.
Despite my dislike of the trio and their act, there were obviously many in the audience who chortled and spluttered throughout, much to my amazement. However, I also noticed that some left and did not return such as the couple who sat in the seats in front of me, of whom I grew increasingly envious as the second half progressed.
My advice, make sure you have a strong caffeine hit of triple espresso before seeing this show and maybe then you will stay awake, unless you are a fan of the kind of hackneyed children’s humour one would more readily associate with the Sooty and Sweep Show.
What other critics had to say.....
BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE for THE TIMES says,"Ambling, amiable, undemanding, uncontentious fun." LYN GARDNER for THE GUARDIAN says, "This show is really just an excuse to rehash some old jokes, routines and toe-curling audience singalongs within a theatrical format.....As it is, it is a very tired old blend, not a gold blend." THE SUNDAY TIMES says, "Entertainment is not dead... irresistible variety show." PATRICK MARMIOM for TIME OUT says, "It's a very, very decaffeinated fare..."
External links to full reviews from popular press