A tribute to men in sandals: Don Gnu’s Two Men and a Plank

ZOO TV online, Edinburgh Festival Fringe
August 12, 2021

Humour is a funny thing. Verbal comedy rarely travels well but there is a kind of primal physical comedy that is universal. Danish duo, Don and Gnu, aka Kristoffer L. A. Pedersen and Jannik Elkær, excel in this field.

Two Men and a Plank is just what it says on the tin. The plank is a sturdy piece of stripped pine and the men, two everyday guys. Well, not quite, cast your eyes down and notice trousers tucked into white socks and shod in Jesus sandals.

The setting is a rather bleak estuary of undistinguished puddles which offer comic possibilities offset by dexterous footwork. (No suits were water damaged in the making of this movie.) The old music hall joke of the workman who changes direction with a plank on his shoulder surfaces, but is neatly ducked. However, the plank is given full value as a pathway to heaven. Aided by ingenious camera work from Christoffer Brekne, sandalled feet attempt to scale the dizzying heights. The heroic mountaineer appears to scan the wide horizon but we’re back to earth with a bump when the next shot reveals a few cautious steps up a sloping plank on a sand bank. Who needs the truth when we have such ambitious fantasy?

The fun is in the mock-heroic delivery which the men have honed to a fine art. They stake their claim to a patch of sandbank standing man-spread, side by side arms akimbo, well almost as pointed elbows fight for the limited space between. Laced with ingenuity and one upmanship, they fight a subversive battle without a winner. Like characters from a Beckett play, they search for their place in the drama of life, walking purposefully for the non-purpose of placing the plank in yet another position,

Harmony returns when a tiny daisy is discovered blooming in the wilderness and carefully replanted with tender loving care, throwing into sharp relief the human frailty and the egotism that drives self-importance. Puffed up pride is the stuff of comedy while the daisy affirms simplicity as the essence of true worth. It’s a thoughtful moment from a talented team.

Two Men and a Plank by Don Gnu is available until August 28, 2021. Visit zootv.live or tickets.edfringe.com for details and tickets.