This review was originally written for EdFringeReview.com
It is unavoidable that when comedy teeters and falls into the chasm of absurdity, some will be taken with it and some will not. With their utterly bizarre and borderline farcical Cult Of Lactos, comedy trio The One Eyed Men undoubtedly carry most audience members with them as they abandon all pretence and plumb the depths of the absurd with delightful silliness. Made up of Ben Anderson, Alex Kempton and Sam Jacobsen (described by themselves dangerous chin, needs-to-shave, and little cartoon boy respectively), The One Eyed Men leave audiences both amused and confused in equal measure.
The performance, if it can be termed such, is loosely based around the trio’s attempt to indoctrinate audience members into their sublimely titled Cult of Lactos, a religious order that irreverently worship Barry Ashworth, the inventor of long life milk. Incorporating audience participation (focussed entirely on one unfortunate soul in the front-row), a variety of extremely questionable accents and a host of entertainingly peculiar characters, the show leapfrogs from a description of the cult’s history, to an elaborate soul-cleansing ceremony, to the second coming of Barry Ashworth himself.
At times the show does become too ridiculous to hold the audience’s attention, particularly during an extended sequence set in an alternative milk-centric reality during which Anderson dons a cow costume and sprays foaming liquid from his mouth whilst writhing on his back. For the most part, however, the line is, if not toed, then at least acknowledged as it sails pass. A partially-improvised scene in which the three attempt to read the memories of an audience member is brilliantly executed. Throughout, the trio display refreshing self-awareness, confessing to the audience that ‘this bit is really strange’.
The Cult of Lactos is as bewildering aesthetically as it is theatrically. Performing in what appears to be an eerily-lit abandoned wine-cellar, complete with damp floor and humid atmosphere, Anderson Kempton and Jacobsen sport brightly-coloured kaftans and fezzes topped with bejewelled milk bottles; their strange get-ups effective complement the show’s bizarreness.
It is an appalling cliché, but in truth, enjoyment of The Cult Of Lactos is best achieved by accepting its wackiness early on and embracing its aura of absurdity with gusto. Only then can one fully engage with the show’s calculated silliness and appreciate three commendable comic performances from Anderson, Kempton, and Jacobsen.