“The Retreat” at Edinburgh Fringe 2023

*** (out of 5)

For one hour only, you’re cast in the role of an employee at the fake company, Men-ses Period Panties. Of course, you’ve volunteered for this mission, but in the fictional world where people buy and sell Men-ses, the company’s executives (played by Rebekka Johnson and Anne Gregory), your presence is mandatory.

What follows is a campy satire of capitalism and corporate morale-boosting, combined with a variety show. The variety element truly changes nightly, inviting three or four different acts from elsewhere around the Fringe to entertain us, the employees. That may include a stand-up comedian, drag queens, a clown or performance artist, and finally a musical act. Kate Nash, who not only co-starred with Johnson on Netflix’s GLOW but also produced this Fringe run, showed up multiple nights in the first half of the run to perform.

It’s all a nice, fun diversion which helps promote other acts at the Fringe. But I couldn’t help but wonder and yearn for a version of this show that eschewed the guest performances to focus purely on parodying the delusions of late-stage capitalist C-suiters run amok.

The Retreat runs through Aug. 27 at Underbelly Cowgate, Big Belly

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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