Jit barely realized the comedy game, forever suspended between the fictional world and the enjoyment its creators have of playing it, has a proud lineage in comedy. This is the territory staked by the two Edinburgh Comedy Award nominees the delicious sausage.
Apparently Nowt But Sea tells the story of Chris Cantrill and Amy Gledhill – barely disguised as their stage alter egos – summoned to a private island by reclusive celebrity agent Cedric L’Shay. Is mainstream success finally in sight for these two ‘mucky northern oiks’ – or does L’Shay have other projects in store for them? It’s a far less important issue here than the jokes, gossip, smut, and lazy meta-theatrics (“gosh, what acting!”) that the delicious sausage invites us to enjoy along the way.
The risk is that the theatricality seems half-assed, the fiction uncommitted. But that’s avoided here because Cantrill and Gledhill engage when it counts – as does guest star Paul Dunphy, who puts on a ridiculously creepy performance, all big teeth and hand sanitizer, as lascivious L’Shay.
The duo’s cheerful and teasing report, meanwhile, will blow away any remaining objections. Watching them laugh at each other (or in Cantrill’s case, laughing at each other) is a spectacle in itself, as they poke fun at each other’s weaknesses and physique and poke fun at their own theatrical pretentiousness.
There are so many detours and silly diversions (see the shaggy dog story sparked by Cantrill mistaking his oars for chopsticks), it’s a wonder Nowt But Sea ever reaches its destination. But soon, our heroes are trapped in L’Shay’s lair. Amy is the most willing guest in the house; a slave to her libido, she is highly aroused by her host’s digital cinema habits. (Cue smutty puns on the word “streaming”.) It falls to Chris to perform a rescue, using only lube, a pair of gold underwear and his obsession with Victoria Coren Mitchell. By the final reel, the duo’s dreams of major league success are in tatters. Is it any consolation to say that, with such infectious and gleefully raw shows, their cult status in fringe comedy seems assured?