With jokes about homemade chutney, the Chelsea Flower Show, and tax brackets, The Establishment: Eton Mess is an action-packed, over-the-top parody of Britain’s most privileged. It’s a playful yet sharply observant slab of comedy that sees hilarious duo Dan Lees and Neil Frost adopt the role of two men desperately clinging to their life of cricket matches and outrageous wealth.
Characterisation is the key to the success of this show. The bowler hats and garish suits ensure Lees and Frost look every inch the people they’re poking fun at, but it’s their calculated body language and lexical choices that truly captures the essence of Godfrey and Cecil (their posh personas). The duo makes haughtiness hilarious when they illustrate with boundless energy just how ridiculously excitable Godfrey and Cecil become when talking about the wealth they’ve amassed.
On the surface, The Establishment: Eton Mess is one hour of unadulterated silliness. However, peel back the gimmicks, the props and the stylised la-di-da manner of it all and you’ll find this is a show that has something to say. It passes comment on the subjects like classism and the arms industry, and it asks questions about those in charge.
The show – with its singing, its dancing, its audience participation – is a fast-paced, multidimensional masterclass in comedy that seeks to mock and question. It definitely won’t appeal to those who don’t see the humour in the repetition of phrases like “lovely jubbly”. Overall, though, The Establishment: Eton Mess is a fun, dynamic and satirical comedy that causes an hour to fly by. You might say it’s a jolly good show.
Words: Morgan Laing
Picture: Mark Dawson
The Establishment: Eton Mess, Assembly George Square, Aug 19-27, 5pm