Elis James and Chris Corcoran, Committee Meeting – Edinburgh Festival review

Turns out that having a Committee Meeting is a cracking way to start your day

Committee Meeting

I just sat in a room in Scotland with a load of English people and pretended to be in a small Welsh town. GO TEAM GB!!! Elis James and Chris Corcoran’s Committee Meeting is a melange of Phoenix Nights, Gavin and Stacey, and panto (“yeeeah” “booooo” etc) – and it’s a wonderful way to kick off a day of shows.

Us audience members are all committee members and Chris Corcoran, in Butlin’s blue blazer, is chairman, while Elis James plays Rex, the loyal but simple caretaker in flat cap and all-weather coat (who turns out to be not so simple). It pokes fun at the gentle backwardness of such towns, with affection and not a trace of malice. 1.30pm is no time for gritty satire.

We are treated to some games (including a brilliant Mastermind set piece between Rex and his nemesis, Vernon Jones), a scandal of some edible knickers, a couple of visitors (Vernon, and Steve News a local wannabe newsreader also played by Elis), and a showcase of Rex’s hidden talents.

There’s an emphasis on the charmingly shambolic, with Chris and Elis willing to come out of character with a ready quip. A forgotten, apparently vital prop is barely missed and in fact their muddling through is probably funnier than what was on the script. The crowd takes to the pair immediately, and are very keen to get involved. Unusually keen. Someone called Jackie was selected to take minutes. You should have seen how much she wrote.

It’s warm, family-friendly, knockabout fun, all done with a knowing wink but not a drop of cynicism. James and Corcoran have a winning onstage chemistry and their easy repartee is great fun. The pair have worked together to excellent effect on Social Club, a sitcom on Radio Wales that is hewn from the same comedy stone as Committee Meeting, and James’s Rex character has appeared on Rhod Gilbert’s Saturday morning radio show, so this show is hitting the ground running.

Quaint British towns and their whimsical residents aren’t the most original target for comedy but Committee Meeting is too much fun for that to be a bother – and you could power Wales with the amount of goodwill James and Corcoran create in the room.

4 stars

• Committee Meeting is on at 1.30pm at the Underbelly Bristo Square
Review written by Paul Fleckney

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