The Joke is a frenetic little piece from writer/performer Will Adamsdale who uses his comedic talents throughout the next ninety minutes to take the audience with him on a journey through the perils of national identities, daily life and finally getting to a punchline.
The play starts as the audience file in to find an empty stage in a darkened room. Adamsdale launches us into it by posing as a member of the audience who decides to leave early in disgust and finds himself locked in. Hutchinson and Logan then make their equally noisy debuts through a side door and springing out from a locked box of props respectively.
Finding themselves trapped inside of a joke and having to get out, the three self-described middle aged men, all from different parts of the British Isles (‘an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman…’) spend their time squabbling towards a solution together and airily dismissing the audience watching them as ‘hopeless’.
Deciding that the only way to escape the trap they find themselves in is to pick a joke and act it out until they reach the end of the punchline, the three struggle on through the tricky issues of picking their joke, casting the roles, setting the stage and bringing the ever expanding act to an actual end. Much bickering and patching up of hurt feelings ensues, with the humble tic-tac embraced as an international peace offering.
The actors are all in fine form, with Adamsdale playing a polite but repressed Englishman frequently indirectly insulting the other two as he gradually unravels under the pressure of his situation. Logan is the friendly but touchy Scot who often storms off in high dudgeon and can only be lured back to cooperate with the others when serenaded by a burst of the Proclaimers. Meanwhile Hutchinson is a bundle of energy as he throws himself into the part of embodying ‘Irishness’ and lectures his colleagues on the great minds produced by Northern Ireland.
The Joke is a sharp comedy-theatre hybrid that entertains and informs its audience in equal measure. Humour with bite, it is a good play to pass an evening watching.