Review: String v SPITTA

A classic comedy odd couple entertain an oligarch's daughter at her delightfully chaotic birthday party

comedy review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
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String v Spitta
Photo by James Deacon
Published 20 Aug 2023

It's Anastasia's sixth birthday and the Andrevski's are throwing a party. Mr Andrevski is a Russian oligarch, Mrs Andreski a supermodel. They've hired MC SPITTA (Kiell Smith-Bynoe) – London's ascending star of kids' entertainment. A freewheeling TikTok talent, SPITTA's winning blend of improv and magic is disrupting the birthday party market, providing him with a stream of steady cash that was lacking from his humble east end upbringing. 

Meanwhile, his career going the other way, is Sylvester 'Silly' String (Ed MacArthur). He's a privately educated, toffee-nosed stickler whose taste for classical music, accordion playing and privilege is no longer enough for him to dominate the party-bag scene. But by un-levelling the playing field, he manages to shoehorn his way into the oligarch's booking, setting up a classic odd couple pairing and comedic showdown. 

String v SPITTA is a delightful gift of birthday treats: joke-book one-liners, magic tricks and, perhaps best of all, their commitment to so many singalongs and games (including 'The Wheels on the Bus'; 'Who Stole the Cookie from the Cookie Jar'; 'Heads, Shoulders Knees and Toes'; 'Big Fish, Little Fish, Cardboard Box'). Pleasingly, there's also time for a lot of animal noises. 

All becomes chaos in the Andrevski household as tensions between String and SPITTA mount, revealing the lengths entertainers will go to sharpen their competitive edge. But with much of their respective backgrounds preempted in flashback scenes the impact of their frisson in the present action of the party is occasionally diminished.

The real sparks come through their bickering asides at the oligarch's house, as more of their lives and attitudes come to the fore. In these moments, sharp satire suddenly contrasts to the show's more playful side – especially as String attempts to learn improv and reflects on the social-economic implications for us all when someone born into the upper class decides to wing-it; or the differing perspectives the pair have about the police. That's the stuff that could elevate String v SPITTA from a charmingly playful show, happily not taking itself too seriously, into a sitcom that could run and run.