A game of classic 2000s British TV show Deal or No Deal set in the fires of hell – a concept we’ve all thought of before and Cosmic Collective Theatre have finally brought to the stage. A bizarre and omnipotent evil demon holds Noel Edmonds to task as we sail through his life in 22 sealed red boxes. With a member of the audience dragged to the stage to help Edmonds unpick the numbers that have defined his life, this odd comedy concept piece sees a frenzied broadcaster spiral out of control. I trotted along to this as someone who watched the show every day after school, and I feel like that’s the only audience who will really have a clue what’s going on here. The show doesn’t quite lean enough into the tropes and nuances of the show’s format to hark back with nostalgia, and the comedy is realised best toward the show’s end.
A central hilarious impersonation of the titular TV host and broadcaster holds the piece together, as we walk into a room with 22 red boxes splayed across the floor. Edmonds is performed with the sort of unhinged whimsy that exacerbates Edmonds’ interesting public persona in the past few years. There’s certainly a tinge of Alan Partridge if he was being subjugated to a deal with the devil. One last episode is all Edmonds have to prove himself, and so he drags a much-begrudging audience member up to the ‘Dream Factory’ to play a make or break game that may well see Noel perish altogether. Edmonds asked our poor soul whether they had seen the show before, to which the response was “I think so”, and that just about summed up the humour of the first part of the show.
The boxes are opened one by one to reveal a number that has some pertinence to Noel’s life – from a 186 mph world record attempt at driving along the Tring bypass, to the years his shows were cancelled, and the appearance of blob-who-must-not-be-named, the humour is extracted from these moments and Noel interacting with a demonic banker at the other end of the phone. While the over-the-top madness of it all proves eventually entertaining, as the show leans more into its demonic phase it becomes a lot more clear, the show doesn’t make great use of its source material in between. Occasional references to the format bring some clarity, but there are no references to classic memes from the show like the independent adjudicator, the boxes’ iconic deals, the £250,000 prize. It feels as though the stakes are too low throughout for there to be enough tension to deliver the pay off of the demonic reveal at the end.
Edmonds is essentially an hour long comedy skit, and it feels as though parts of it definitely could have been sawn off and retextured to provide a little bit more narrative to balance out the barrage of comedy. From the moment that a pentagram is drawn around the host, however, we are drawn into absolute fits of laughter, and the original discomfort is lifted. A hysterical chase sequence and the arrival of an omnipotent being on stage alleviates any initial concerns that the piece was inaccessible – although in the first half I think a fair few people in the audience were lost.
An hour of off-the-wall comedy fun, this parody keeps time with its’ bizarre demonic twist. A little more of a lean-in to its source material would make the piece more tangible, and would also help open up the memetic qualities of Edmonds’ overblown persona in the piece.
Recommended Drink: Edmonds is best paired with a Bloody Mary – juicy and a little bit spicy.
Catch Edmonds at Pleasance Courtyard – Baby Grand until August 28th (not the 17th or 24th) at 15:15. Tickets are available through the EdFringe Box Office.