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Crizards: This Means War

By | Published on Saturday 5 August 2023

Will Rowland and Eddy Hare began performing sketch comedy together as Crizards in 2016 in order to enter the Leicester Square Theatre Sketch Off competition. Things progressed from there and – despite nearly calling it a day during the pandemic – they staged their first Edinburgh Crizards show last August with the rather well received ‘Cowboys’.

They return this August with ‘This Means War’, a “wonky war epic” which, like ‘Cowboys’, is directed by Jordan Brookes. Keen to find out more about the duo and this year’s show, I sent Will and Eddy a bunch of questions.

CC: Tell us about ‘This Means War’ – what can we expect from this year’s show?
Cs: Expect some songs, some puppetry, a story about World War Two, and two guys trying their best.

Eddy’s trying to stage a sincere play about his grandad’s experience as a soldier during World War Two, but Will’s taking it less seriously and starts to derail Eddy’s play.

It’s a fun, silly show about friendship, finding the fun in things, and working out what you want to do with your life.

CC: What motivated you to make a ‘wonky war epic’ this time round?
Cs: After ‘Cowboys’ we were trying to think of other worlds that suit a story about male friendship and war seemed like a good option. It’s useful choosing a world that has a lot of existing material to look at, like cowboys or soldiers.

We didn’t want to make a genre parody, but it’s good to work with an existing visual language like that for characterisation and story ideas. It’s also just fun for us to dress up. We like having special little hats.

CC: How does the new show compare to ‘Cowboys?
Cs: This show is more narrative focussed than ‘Cowboys’, so hopefully feels more like watching two men trying to stage a good war play – even if our characters don’t agree on the best way to do it.

We’ve spent a lot of time trying to make the story itself make more sense and be gripping even where it’s meant to seem a bit shambolic, which has been really fun and rewarding, so hopefully people enjoy that as much as we do!

CC: You’re both doing solo shows as well – tell us about them.
Cs: Will’s doing a show called ‘The Clip Farm’. It’s about Will trying to overhaul his social media presence by using this show to generate as much crowdwork clip content as possible.

Eddy’s show is called ‘Leave It With Me’ and it’s a thoughtfully bagged up selection of his favourite material from this year. There’ll be some crowdwork, some stuff about chess, nieces, fish, and many more popular topics.

CC: Let’s do some backstory stuff now – how did you guys come together to form a double act?
Cs: We met at university. Eddy auditioned for a sketch show that Will had written and the next year we wrote a sketch show together and went to Edinburgh with it. We were on at 11.50am and performed to single digit audiences every day but it was fun.

Eddy then dropped out to go to another uni and after we finished our degrees we started Crizards in 2016 to enter the Leicester Square Theatre Sketch Off.

We struck out in the semis so we entered again in 2017 and got to the final, then we just kept writing longer sets, almost stopped completely during the pandemic, but eventually did our first hour in 2022.

CC: How did the tie up with Jordan Brookes come about?
Cs: We both saw Jordan’s Edinburgh show in 2016 and have been really big fans of him since then, so when we decided we wanted to find a director for ‘Cowboys’ we asked him, and this year we all wanted to work together again.

He’s been really fun and helpful to work with, we’ve definitely learnt a lot from the process and both shows have been really improved by his input. It’s important for us to have an outside eye on things, and he’s so funny – we feel very lucky to have him onboard!

CC: How does creating and performing shows together as a duo compare to doing the solo shows?
Cs: It’s less of a lonely process. Even in a rough preview in the middle of nowhere there’ll be at least one other person who thinks what you are doing is funny.

The tradeoff is that nobody has complete creative control – but that’s a good thing! We end up bringing the best out of each other. Also we get to split the thousands of pounds we lose which is pretty cool.

CC: ‘Cowboys’ was very well received at last year’s Fringe of course – how was the experience for you guys?
Cs: It was great. We’ve both been to the Fringe many times with all sorts of different shows so we’re very aware of how it can be a tough place if you feel like your run isn’t going your way. So our expectations were low going in, we weren’t sure how people would receive the show at all.

There was a guy who came on the first day who enjoyed it and then brought friends with him two days later and then he came a third time after that. So that was an early sign that people actually really liked it. Or at least that one lovely dude.

CC: Are there any shows you are hoping to see while in Edinburgh?
Cs: Yes loads. Micky Overman, Matty Hutson, Nathan D’Arcy Roberts, Rob Copland, Helen Bauer, Sunil Patel, Adam Flood, Heidi Regan, Patrick Spicer, David McIver and Ania Magliano are all brilliant – plus other great people we’ve forgotten to include.

There are also a bunch of interesting acts from New York, so it’ll be great to see them and bond with them by asking how tall the Empire State Building really is. We also want to see some magicians but we’re worried they’ll take our watches.

CC: What plans do you have for ‘This Means War’ beyond the Festival?
Cs: Soho Theatre please! We performed ‘Cowboys’ there last year and had a great time. Fingers crossed they’ll have us back.

Other than London, it’d be great to tour it around regionally at some lovely little arts theatres. We see this show as a two year project, so the plan is to keep working on it and refining it after the Fringe this year. If all goes well we can expand it to become a nine hour epic with full orchestral backing.

CC: You’ve done cowboys and soldiers – astronauts next?
Cs: This is a hot debate amongst the Crizards.

Eddy quite likes the idea of doing a space thing but Will finds space too freaky and is worried about having a panic attack and passing out onstage in his astronaut costume. Alternative theme ideas include surfers, 70s disco, elves, veterinarians and microbes.

‘Crizards: This Means War’ was performed at Pleasance Dome – while Will’s show ‘The Clip Farm’ and Eddy’s show ‘Leave It With Me’ were both performed as part of the PBH Free Fringe – all at Edinburgh Festival 2023.

LINKS: instagram.com/crizards

Photo: Rebecca Need-Menear