The Edinburgh Festival Fringe can sometimes be a wholly overwhelming experience. There are literally thousands of events – shows, gigs, installations – you name it and you can probably find it. A comedy show about toes? Check. What about a one-man performance of the original Star Wars Trilogy? No problem. So, with limited time and resources, it can be a daunting task to choose what to go and see, especially with the more under the radar stuff that’s on offer. Will this be any good? Am I missing out on something else, something better? The booker’s remorse is real. Sometimes though, you take a chance and you’re divinely rewarded with a hidden gem. Dot Dot Dot Dash is absolutely one of those shows.
Dot Dot Dot Dash is the latest effort from theater company Two Ladders Productions, known for their World War 2 comedy Embassy Stomp which enjoyed a sell out run at last year’s Fringe. Dot Dot Dot Dash builds on the success of Embassy Stomp and is not unlike Police Cops in style and presentation. It’s a spoof of a classic genre – WWII spy thrillers – it has a brilliant ensemble cast, a variety of memorable characters, minimalist sets, quick costume changes and an ingenious use of props. The entire cast do a wonderful job of bringing their world and story to life while, above all, delivering loads of laughs.
The story follows Count Horoch Zadelski (a key member of the Polish underground) as he narrowly escapes Nazi occupied Europe with the help of the French resistance and British intelligence. There are clear comparisons to be made with the classic sitcom ‘Allo ‘Allo! with some slightly suspect French accents, devilish Gestapo agents and a story filled with subterfuge and double crosses. But it’s the delightful and ludicrous nonsense that really struck a chord with me, stirring up memories of absurdist 80s spoofs like Airplane and the totally underrated Top Secret – a classic comedy no-one seems to talk about.
There’s a real sense of joy to Dot Dot Dash in both the writing and the performances. There’s an obvious reverie for the spy thrillers they’re lampooning, whether it’s old classics like Night Train to Munich or more contemporary films like Black Book. The entire cast are clearly having a great time and that sense of fun genuinely comes across on the stage, elevating the story. The sheer number of different characters and accents – English, Welsh, Scots, French, Portuguese, German – is bewilderingly impressive too and the story hurls along at breakneck speed, fitting in a whole lot of mayhem in just one hour. It’s both thrilling and hilarious.
In morse code, ‘Dot Dot Dot Dash’ translates as “V” for “victory” – an apt title for a winning production. If the next show from Two Ladders Productions is anywhere near as good as this one it’ll be a must-see at next year’s Fringe.
Dot Dot Dot Dash’s current run has now ended but you can follow @LaddersTwo on Twitter for updates on future performances