A blood stained cloth draped over a chair on a dimly lit stage, things are badly awry even before the arrival of Ambika Mod and Andrew Shires, the duo collectively known as Megan from HR, with their “sketch comedy horror” show Children of the Quorn, currently running just off the Cowgate at the Edinburgh Fringe.
“Next time, do it outside on the street then I won’t have have to clean up the blood.” The request is exasperated, a feeling which is to become familiar over the next fifty-five minutes as the duo flash back to reveal the events which apparently led to this moment as they pull out the ouija board in preparation for a séance.
The flyer depicting Mod and Shires in the forest wearing dark hats and modest dress, a play upon the cult horror Children of the Corn, the ultimate in alternative lifestyles being not only submission to a religious cult but finding themselves the only vegetarians within that cult, opens up a wealth of cross-cultural observations and outsider jokes of the awkwardness of combining human sacrifice with a meat-free diet.
Sadly, Children of the Quorn is not that show. Instead, the awkward party hosts waiting for the rest of the guests to arrive and refusing to believe nobody else (the dead) is coming to their séance, Mod and Shires attempt to “entertain” with a series of embarrassingly amateur attempts at comedy, laboured jokes of little wit or originality which were not pollinated in the fertile fields of folk horror Americana.
A large room with no amplification and harsh spotlights behind the performers which dazzle the audience more than the mediocre talent, they are without microphones and competing with the noises from the bar behind but make no attempt to compensate, mumbling their lines then explaining the jokes in an attempt to prove how clever they are; spoiler alert: they aren’t.
There is no attempt to create or differentiate characters in the sketches, and with terrible diction and little attempt to make their voices reach beyond the front rows other than when each weak punchline is followed by shouting “you idiots” at the audience, presumably for actually paying to enter the venue, and rather than a tasty alternative satirical snack Children of the Quorn is more akin to choking on quicksand.