Chow Mein & Hex

Dark comedy double bill examines relationships and lampoons new age medicine

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Chow Mein & Hex

Photo: Alan McCredie

After the success of their shows Chow Mein and Hex at last year’s Fringe Festival, Edinburgh-based theatre company Strangetown has combined both into one night of humour at the Traverse. The double bill includes Chow Mein, a comedy drama about the perils of becoming too comfortable in a relationship and Hex, which gently lampoons the world of new age medicine.

While the plays are billed as dark comedy, co-writer Tim Primrose believes the term risks being misinterpreted: ‘It’s not necessarily the case that it’s hardcore, sick comedy, but we advertise it as “dark” as opposed to “family friendly”.’

Added to this sombre humour are minimal sets and small casts, as well as an almost awkward intimacy in the shows’ quick-fire performances: Chow Mein lasts 50 minutes, Hex 35, something Primrose maintains wasn’t necessarily intentional.

‘When you set out to write a comedy based on one joke it’s interesting to see how long you can string that out for. The plays are set in real time from start to finish, so, as we’re always working to a low budget, this set up makes it technically easier for us.’

With Chow Mein having previously touched a nerve with couples in the audience (‘they really ought to be in therapy!’) and Hex taking off on wild flights of fancy, Primrose and Hex's co-writer Sam Siggs are glad to be fulfilling their main aims:

‘The audience leave baffled and amused. It’s quite fun watching people leave the theatre with a big grin on their faces.’

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Thu 8–Sat 10 Mar

Chow Mein & Hex

Chow Mein is a play about Terry and Susan, whose Chinese takeaway has a surprise for them. Hex is about Gwen and Toby and their dabbling in Magik (with a K). Strangetown's double bill returns after its success in the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe.

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