Sofa so good
Last time, they were stuck in a bathroom. This time, they’re down the back of a couch. They are THE RIGHT SIZE. And they’re seriously funny. Words: Mark Fisher
‘ln among all the stupidity
something people can latch onto.’
Hamish McColl, Freddie Jones and Sean Foley are couch potatoes
12 THE LIST 12—26 Apr 2001
our years ago the Right Size were ready to call it a
day. llamish McC‘oll and Sean l-‘oley had had enough.
They‘d being touring the arts centre circuit for nearly ten years. successful enough in their way. but somehow trapped in a small-scale hell. “We thought we‘ll jtist go to lidinburgh then pack it in.‘ says l‘oley. the dtio‘s good- looking. close-cropped. rubber-limbed half. ‘After a certain point you think. well. we're never going to move onto the next level.’
But then came [)0 You Come Here Often." and suddenly the Right Size were exactly. well. the right si/e. (‘rashing into the Assembly Rooms on the lidinburgh l‘ringe of I997. the show was a silly comedy about two strangers stuck in a bathroom for 25 years. The Daily 'Ii'lz'gmplt said it was like ‘Terry Waite and Brian Keenan crossed with Morecambe and Wise'. The List called it ‘a genre collision’. part double- act. part physical theatre. part song and dance pastiche. Above all. it was very funny. though not. as l5o|ey observes. funny enough to qualify for a comedy award: ‘lt wasn‘t put on the Perrier list because it was classified as theatre not comedy. and we were going. "Well. what are all those people doing laughing‘."".
And it changed everything. Transferring to London‘s West End. it won the 1999 ()livier Award For Best Comedy. returned to Edinburgh for another shot at the l‘ringe. followed by a sell-out off-Broadway run where it was nominated for Most Unique Theatre l-ixperience in the Drama Desk Awards (or ‘Best Show On A Monday Night Throughout The Whole ()f September By The Right Size. as Foley characterises it). The door is open for them to return to New York whenever they fancy. Darlings of the British Council. they've taken the show everywhere from Delhi to Oman
Meantime. they returned to Edinburgh to star at the 'l‘raverse in Mr l’tmIi/u .lm/ His .tltm Mum" and rarely has Brecht's comedy been so joyful. \Vhich brings us toiltltll and the first original Right Si/e show in four years. As you'd guess. it's about two old friends who get lost down the back of a sofa until they 're discovered wandering naked tht\\lt lllL‘ lll l0: Utllsltlc l'tto\ctcr. .-\Ittl stuff. ll‘\ Cttllctl Betti/t/mvuhss and. although it features \eteran British L‘ltttl‘ttclc‘l' ttc‘lttl‘ lireddie .loncs. it is lltll ltl lk‘ taken sL‘l'lttllsl}'.
‘\\'c did have more measured rehearsals for l5rcddic. but in the end he was dragged into it.’ laughs llamish .\lc(‘oll. he of the Marty l5eldman eyes and sticky-up hair. taking a break from moying house when I meet them both in a London bar. ‘\\'e work best as a double act when we are Plit in terrible situations. like in bathrooms that don‘t have any exits or down the backs of sofas. I mean. it's a particular kind of workk
They also work well in the moment. playing an audience. exploiting the liyeness of the stage. I mention the time I saw a .'\'oe| (‘oward production being stopped in its tracks by an audience member collapsing. .-\II the actors could do was ignore it and start their scene again. How would these (iaulier-trained actors. who take inspiration from Blister Keaton. 'l'ommy ('ooper and Billy Dainty. cope in the same situation'.’ ‘lt‘d be a gift.‘ laughs .\lc(‘oll.
‘We‘d stage the luneral on stach says l-‘oley.
‘It depends how ill they were. lhough.‘ says .\lc(‘o|l. 'lf they'd genuinely died. I don’t think you could . . .’
. laughs aplenty in Row [)3‘ chips in l5oley.
‘()n a good night you'll push something out that‘ll get bigger and bigger and you’ll dare it to go a bit further.' says Mc(‘oll. "There are things that have started as single lines that have become huge numbers. We like our shows to have a balance; it is live comedy but it is a show that has been built to give something else.‘
‘There isn‘t a message.‘ agrees l-‘oley. ‘but we do work very hard to make sure that the shows have a human resonance. ln among all the stupidity there's something people can latch onto humanly.’
So comedy is important then'.’ ‘()h yeah.‘ says l5oley. ‘But it is annoying that people keep laughing at us.‘
Bewilderness, Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Wed 95—Sat 7R Anr.