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Mayhem with meaning

It was back to the Asylum for another dose of the Kneehigh company’s unique brand of entertainment with a twist. This time, in Blast, the three characters in search of a plot attempt to give a patriot’s potted history of Cornwall in a mere 60 minutes – the time left before their suicide jacket of explosives is due to blow us all to smithereens. (It would have been sooner but Chough set the timer to minutes instead of seconds, which somewhat deflated his dramatic entrance).
Using the same basic set (a door and a gantry on a raised platform) as employed in The Red Shoes, they whizz through 2000 years of turbulent happenings helped by a rack of clothes, a cluster of wigs and an odd assortment of props from saffron buns and pasties to blow-up dolphins and glove puppets.
Adding to this anarchic mayhem there is a smattering of roistering songs, readings from the “national” poet and enough good old-fashioned slapstick to ensure even the youngest (and oldest) audience member is rocking with laughter.
Amid all the pratfalls and double-entendres (reminiscent of old-time music halls and pantos) there are numerous pungent political barbs decrying the Cornish loss of identity and the once-proud duchy’s status as the poor relation of English counties.
The sharpest shaft of all is reserved for Prince Charles (and Camilla) in his role as Duke of Cornwall “who even gets the Cornish oatcakes he sells made in Scotland”.
This is 90 minutes of riotous entertainment with bite; a patriotic fol-de-rol that ends with a tear-jerking roll-call of all who have contributed to the duchy’s long and proud history – and with Chough’s bomb going off right on time.

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