REVIEW: Ricky Riddlegang and the Riddle Gang, Edinburgh Fringe 2019 ★★★★☆

After last year’s successful run of Cream Tea and Incest (back on at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe with an all-female cast), Benjamin Alborough and The Cardboard Exotics have created a new madcap comic adventure in Ricky Riddlegang and the Riddle Gang.

The eponymous Ricky Riddlegang is an ace teen detective, complete with his plucky detective buddies (a cowboy, an occult goth, a computer hacker, and a talking dog, Dogford) in a story with absolutely no relation to Scooby-Doo. Together, the Riddlegang have gotta figure out why Uncle Eustace Riddlegang’s “ancestral collection of clues and hints has gone missing,” where to, and just who stole them.

Much like Cream Tea and Incest, Riddle Gang is utterly stupid and utterly delightful. The characters are all proudly one-note archetypes, which allow the actors to swim through fantastic comedic depths; many of us at Binge Fringe and Slipshod Theatre saw the show several times, each time continuing to elicit raucous laughter. It is just right for the Fringe: over-the-top, zany, self-referential and self-aware, while sewing in an important thematic message (“What have you both been doing?” “Passing the Bechdel Test!”).

Production-wise, the makeshift cardboard set enhances the silliness and creates an additional dimension for belly-laughs; the ‘shelf’ of parody book titles comes to mind. Much like the humour and acting style, it is perfect for the Fringe. Dogford, the talking cardboard dog attached to a remote-control racing car, is a particular highlight and, arguably, worth the price of admission for him alone.

It is the second instalment of writer Benjamin Alborough’s Cardboard Exotics Trilogy: gun to my head, if I had to choose between them, the sheer inanity and raunchiness of Cream Tea and Incest wins me over – but that is not to dismiss the strengths of Riddle Gang. It is its more polished older sibling with a clear sense of identity while maintaining that delightful stupidity we know and love. We’re so excited to see the final instalment next year.

Ricky Riddlegang and the Riddle Gang has its final performance at the Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre tomorrow, 15:15, August 25th. We sorely recommend it.