Max and Ivan tell the comic story of folks in a doomed town

Max and Ivan. Picture by Dan Burn
Max and Ivan. Picture by Dan Burn

Comedy duo Max and Ivan bring The End to The Hawth Studio, Crawley, on Friday, May 27, at 7.45pm,

Welcome to Sudley-on-Sea. Take a look around. You don’t have long. Seriously.

As Max Olesker explains, the duo’s first UK tour tells an epic narrative sketch comedy tale about the hopes, fears and dreams of a doomed town.

“The overly-ambitious premise for the show is that we play every single individual in a small coastal town and that we introduce the audience to more or less every person on the day of the town’s destruction. There is an industrial accident…”

It’s the latest escapade for the duo who are Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Award winners and Melbourne Barry Award nominees.

“We first got together because we were both studying drama one way or another at Royal Holloway… one way or another because it all gets lost in the social whirl of student life. We ended up going to the Edinburgh Festival with a student show, and while we were up there we discovered everything that Edinburgh was and avidly started writing. Quite quickly, quite early on, it became just the two of us. It started kicking off quite soon in the first year of university when we started performing as a double act, and we doggedly refused to stop. When we graduated, we sat down and double-checked whether we really wanted to do this thing and really make a go of it and we did. We both felt the answer was yes, and we have stuck at it ever since. We graduated in 2009 which is seeming years ago now!”

Being part of a duo certainly suits Max: “I have always enjoyed collaborating with other people. I am a hypersocial person and am incapable of getting anything done if I am on my own. If I think of a joke, I always want to try it out on someone straightaway just to see whether it lands or not.”

For their next show, which they are currently writing, they are exploring a little bit more the traditional straight man/funny man divide that comedy duos so often adopt – but for the moment, it doesn’t really apply: “Because of our predilection for playing innumerable different characters, we are both playing all sorts of people. But we have started to get a bit more into the straight man/funny man dynamic. I would be the straight man. I don’t know why. I suppose some people are born straight. Some people achieve straightdom, and some people have it thrust upon them!”

As for the current show, Max, who comes originally from Portsmouth, says that simplicity is a guiding principle. There are no frantic costume changes.

“It is straight-up pure rarefied acting and a lot of self-belief and sweat. It is all just there in front of you. We are still having a nervous reaction to a show that we did when we were still at university. We had 30-40 sketches, and for every single one we had costume changes. We managed to cajole a couple of our mates into being our dressers, but it was just too much, too difficult to organise and you couldn’t even really say that the costume changes were adding much. So now we try to keep it to a minimalist delivery.”

Call 01293 553636 or visit www.hawth.co.uk.

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