The Life of Spies
The show has a great premise: it’s a farce about two spies and their handlers who converge on a conference in the Swiss Alps to assassinate the same diplomatic target, whereupon pretty much everything goes tits up. Sadly, the show just didn’t live up to the promise of espionage, intrigue and laughs. In short, it’s not funny. I attended with three other MICF fans and none of us laughed during a very hot and uncomfortable 45 minutes out the back of The 86. Post show, each described the The Life of Spies as akin to a bad high school production: it aims at Bond, but ends up more in the vicinity of the Beeb’s 80’s WWII sitcom ’Allo ’Allo, albeit even less amusing.
The show is performed by a cast of four who take turns rotating through the characters of the piece, including a Russian spy and his superior, an English spy and his commander, an OTT French concierge and a handsy Maharaja, all of which rely on ridiculous and very tired racial tropes, and even those were inconsistent. For instance, the Brit commander had a posh Chelsea accent and a cuppa permanently in his grasp, but kept slipping into something approaching cockney in the opening scenes. Also, because the delivery was patchy, it was hard to keep track of who was playing who as the show progressed. Elsewhere, lines were fudged.
On the plus side, the costumes were good, the cocktail-shaking lounge song that opened the show was groovy and the sound marking the end of each scene was cute (reminiscent of the tone which let you know when to turn the page on books as a kid). The story would work better as a podcast or radio play: ABC Radio’s Tokyo Hotel could be a good model.
As the play progressed, covers were blown and civilians murdered, in response to which a character announced, “this is indeed a disaster”, but the epithet could equally have applied to the show itself. This is one for friends and family only.
By Meg Crawford