Earlier this year two ambitious Stockton Sixth Form College students set their sights on performing their original slapstick comedy ‘Squeeze Harder, Zanni!’ at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. After months and months of performances and fundraising they have finally raised enough to achieve their dream.
The comedy duo ‘Third Absurd’ made up of former student Con Best and current student Harry Lidford have entirely written, directed and produced ‘Squeeze Harder, Zanni’, a slapstick comedy about a benevolent master who tries to get his useless servant a girlfriend.
Now after performing it for sell-out crowds at the college they have decided to take it to the Edinburgh Fringe. To make their dreams a reality they have undertaken months of tireless fundraising including performing countless shows and hosting coffee mornings at the college. Now they have just two performances left before they take it to the Fringe.
On July 1st at 7pm, they will be performing their two hour version of the show, tickets for which are £5, and on the 8th July, also at 7pm, they will be performing the one hour ‘Edinburgh version’, which is being run as a ‘pay what you think’ event. Both performances will take place in the drama studio at Stockton Sixth Form College which is situated inside Stockton Town Football Club. Tickets are available on their social media pages listed at the end of this article.
‘Squeeze Harder, Zanni!’ had humble beginnings. It started life as a two-minute improvised college sketch by Con and Harry. Their class-mates’ hysterical response encouraged them to work it up into a 20 minute piece for a final year devised exam. After critical acclaim from those who viewed it, the boys let their comic imaginations run riot and within a year it had grown into a fully-fledged 2 hour play with tons more brilliant jokes and slapstick.
Using virtually no set, this newly devised production is a tightly plotted piece of slapstick in the cartoonish style of Commedia dell’Arte (the forerunner of the British panto, American Vaudeville and British TV classics such as Miranda, Bottom, and the physical comedy of Fawlty Towers). This, combined with a witty and entertaining script, has audiences rooting for an increasingly desperate Zanni looking for love. Albeit rife with innuendo and ‘naughty bits’, Squeeze Harder, Zanni! is family-friendly and has jokes for everyone; like a pantomime, there are jokes that will thankfully sail over children’s heads but will undoubtedly make the adults guffaw. The physical knockabout chemistry between The Doctor and Zanni will have the kids laughing and the parents laughing harder.
‘Third Absurd’ has attracted generous support from family, friends, fellow students, and the community in their fundraising for the ever- increasing costs of taking a show to Edinburgh. The two performers received considerable support and guidance from Stockton Sixth Form College and their old secondary school, Ian Ramsey.
Teacher Nicola Mejia said: “It’s been a privilege to follow its evolution. I urge you all to take the time to come along and see it and in turn support these two young comic protégés and their dream to perform at the Edinburgh Festival. I’d say break a leg, but given all of the slap stick in the show they might just do that! So instead, I’ll wish them both the best of luck with their future endeavours”.
You can see Third Absurd take to the stage at C primo, Lodge No 1, Hill Street. The show will run for 1 hour and begins at 8.45pm. The performance days are from 2nd August to the 28th August, excluding the 14th.
Although all are welcome, the authors have opted to put a recommended age limit of 12+ on the play, which is at the discretion of the parent/carer.
Some of the anonymous recorded quotes from the various performances include:
“As per all of your performances…amazing!” “Absolutely brilliant, timing, facial expressions, everything. Loved it!” “Bloody brilliant!” “…flawless…” “The Two Ronnies were nothing compared to you two” “…in stitches the whole time!”