Review: Cardinal Burns’ Performance at The Nuffield (09/11/2014)

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four star

The Nuffield Theatre recently played host to the BAFTA nominated and British Comedy Award winning duo Cardinal Burns, known for their hit E4 sketch show. Their UK tour arrived for one night only, translating onto stage from the screen effortlessly, in this ridiculously varied and well executed performance.

Real names Seb Cardinal and Dustin Demri-Burns, the pair hit the scene big time at the 2009 Edinburgh comedy fringe festival and from there went to create an award-winning debut series. Their self-titled show Cardinal Burns aired on E4 in 2012 and they’ve never looked back, winning the most British Award nominations for a first time show and achieving the award for Best Sketch Show. Now they achieve sell out tours around the globe, from the likes of Reading, Latitude and Leeds music festivals all the way to Melbourne International Comedy Festival.

The show kicked off at 7:30pm and was an instant success, starting with a hilarious musical number and drawing on popular culture and active audience participation throughout.  The characters, some familiar from the series and some fresh for the tour, were all executed brilliantly – although any slight hiccups in the performance were drawn upon by one or the other, and the improvisation was second to none! Anyone who felt this would be a simple parroting of some of their old material had little to worry about, the balance was perfectly achieved, embracing long term fans and new viewers alike. The costume changes, use of smoke and lighting and various other effects including “sweat machines” all topped off the electric atmosphere and unrelenting enthusiasm from the crowd. The pair’s undeniable flair for accents made each sketch unique and totally unrecognisable from the one before, with each bringing a whole host of new characters and keeping the audience captivated. From performing a parody of a sketch show entirely in French to Stoke “mega-lads” looking for the local Oceana, their synchronisation was incredible to watch and they never once faltered in their performance.

Previous live shows have been described as absurdly believable and it was this relatability that made the show so sensational. Their incredible range of characters included cocky London cab drivers, camp paranormal investigators and stroppy high school pop stars, interspersed with unforgettable musical performances. The audience were not only mesmerised but also actively involved. Some were brought up on stage and others helplessly straddled during a sketch involving sleazy taxicab drivers blaring out “My tax discs expired” over King’s Of Leon’s “Sex on Fire”. However, everyone took it in their stride and from banter battles to singing into microphones held at crotch level everyone got into the spirit of the performance.  Some of the characters acted on stereotypes that we could all recognise (from interviewing a part time FootLocker worker believing he deserved celebrity status on a parody chat show entitled “I know your name” to teachers scolding in assembly), and others subverted these for a fresh outlook – who would have suspected the queen would be so quick to spark up a cigarette and throw on a long nightshirt at her garden party?

The show was infectiously absurd and would be recommended to anyone who fancies an evening slightly out of the ordinary with this cult comedy duo that will undoubtedly continue to grow in popularity.

Cardinal Burns are continuing on their UK tour and can be seen at the Theatre Royal Winchester on the 23rd November. Tickets can be purchased here.

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