EFR - Reviews of Chaps on Legs

Chaps on Legs

Mon 15th – Sun 28th August 2011

reviews

Helen Catt

at 12:22 on 29th Aug 2011

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An Edinburgh Fringe veteran of twenty years said that five minutes of comedy material in London equates to only two minutes in Edinburgh. This is something that the Chaps on Legs would do well to consider at their next Fringe. Good jokes were lost in sketches bloated beyond their necessary length.

The worst part of the show was unfortunately one of the main parts – the character Edwin Garm was, frankly, awful. The buzz from a funny sketch would be lost by the time the next one started if Edwin Garb provided the interlude. This isn't necessarily a reflection on David Edgcombe's abilities as a comic; in other sketches he showed his potential. But the show would have gained much more momentum without Edwin.

As it was, the show lacked this vital momentum. The cast could perhaps find it useful to time the length of sketches in other performances and television shows and compare with their own. Not that there is anything wrong with a longer sketch – merely that the joke has to really need the time being spent on it - which these jokes, being sometimes unoriginal and often predictable, didn't. The sketches often continued long past their punchline, so that they simply became laborious and dull. Even having some of the sketches broken into a couple of parts would have helped to keep momentum. In fact, they did this to great effect with the “Liquorice sketch” - one of few parts that made me laugh out loud. James Royce, in the scene with the gun, gives an idea of what this sketch show could be, with some more work and more original sketches.

The actors were, at least, obviously aware of which sketches worked. At one point, in the blackout, someone from the cast was heard to say beneath his breath that “that sketch bombed”. Hopefully this will mean they cull the duds and over time develop a sketch show that deserves the investment of a primetime showing in a central venue.

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Donnchadh O'Conaill

at 12:27 on 29th Aug 2011

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The Fringe has dozens if not hundreds of shows like Chaps on Legs – enthusiastic, energetic, but amateurish and lacking strong material. This would be reasonably good fare at a university ents night, and might even be passable as an afternoon free show, but it’s hard to see how it ended up at a paying venue.

One immediate problem is the disco character, Edwin Garm, who introduces the show with a dance workout, tells us his tragic story, and contributes recorded thoughts and observations during the black-outs. I’m guessing he is meant to be intensely annoying, but perhaps his creators have underestimated just how irritating he quickly becomes. His recorded contributions in particular were witlessly grating; he is nowhere near developed enough as a character to allow these observations to be charmingly naive.

The problems with the material extend throughout the show. In particular, the group have real trouble handling longer sketches. The characters and situations were not strong enough to sustain interest, and some of the cast had an unfortunate habit of shouting to raise laughs. For example, the interview with a boxer who suffers an asthma attack could have been funny had his desperate pleas been properly intercut with the sports reporter’s question, but the writing just wasn’t tight enough to make a promising idea come close to working. The best sketches were shorter; the duelling tightrope walkers and the suicide sketch which finishes with a neat call-back were cleverly constructed and didn’t outstay their welcome.

The six-strong cast, students from Nottingham University, were in high spirits as this was the last show. They generally seemed well-organised on stage, but without much by way of distinctive direction or staging. Sam Dodgin had suitably dulcet tones for a doggerel version of the Shipping Forecast; David Edgcombe and James Royce were the most versatile members of the troupe. But if they want to develop their comedy, the troupe badly need more focus, a clearer idea of what they want to achieve, and to work much harder on their material.

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