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Review: Behaviour

Job Seekers Anonymous

Job Seekers Anonymous

Arches, Glasgow

Mary Brennan

There is a delicious irony in a comedy cabaret about being unemployed turning into a full-on job with touring options at home and abroad and a couple of awards to boot. One of those, the Arches Brick Award, is the reason that Sh!t Theatre's Fringe success is in the current Behaviour programme.

That irony is not lost on Louise Mothersole and Rebecca Biscuit, whose white-faced vaudeville zanies - with Mothersole mustachio'd as the trousered fall guy, Biscuit as the bright-as-a-button girlie - sing, dance and breezily riff their way through a wry analysis of job-seeking pitfalls and the doleful aspects of the benefits system.

Despite the air of slapdash/slapstick mayhem, the duo are seriously sharp, not least in the way they have re-worked some of the Fringe material and updated the content. This ensures that JSA (as they tag the show) keeps its mischievous, topical edge alongside the nippy sketches that draw parallels between hard times in Victorian Britain and the present state of welfare - the poor are always with us, as is the mindset that blames them for being poor.

There are, however, diversionary loops. The section on "asbestos love" is witty and inventive but feels as if its musings on family, friends and relationships had parachuted in from another show.

Intern Girl (Mothersole) jumping through moving hoops at the increasingly bizarre commands of Biscuit is a brilliant broadside at the expense of unpaid work experience, while the breakdown of what Thatcher's £10 million state funeral could have subsided - free milk for thousands - flagged up the punctilious research that underpins the duo's wickedly hilarious bouts of political farce.

They have gone now, but their new show, Guinea Pigs on Trial, will be at Summerhall during Fringe 2014.

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