EFR - Reviews of Gower Rangers

Gower Rangers

Sat 2nd – Fri 22nd August 2014

reviews

Isobel Cockerell

at 02:33 on 16th Aug 2014

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Sketch shows at the Fringe, after you’ve seen five bad ones in one day, can get pretty grating. This, I’m afraid, really is one of the poorer ones. Full of clichés, badly written for the most part, at times really crass – and not funny with it – Gower Rangers put half the audience in a serious sulk (others walked out). It has to be said, however, that the room wasn’t collectively unamused. Rather, it was split: some people were laughing mechanically, to the deep bewilderment of the others, who sat there in stony, bored, mildly annoyed silence.

The cast is made up of five girls and a token boy. They are a student group formed at UCL’s Comedy Club, so naturally one had high hopes for intelligent and current content. Not so.

Let’s start with the costumes, which isn’t something often mentioned, but it is worth bringing up here, because they were so distracting. A sketch show, by nature, requires its actors to change characters absolutely within a very short space of time. These girls were all dolled up in cocktail dresses, which didn’t work for 90% of the characters they played (juvenile delinquents, American cadets, and so on). Comedy moustaches barely alleviated the fact that the illusion was shattered.

Now to the sketches themselves, which were predominantly unoriginal and rather dull. There was a sketch about killing zombies that simply didn’t make much sense, whilst still managing to be a cliché. And there was, naturally, a Hitler sketch…how predictable. This managed to be both nonsensical and offensive. Oh, and there was a strange sketch about a mayonnaise messiah. It was absurd, but not amusing. Everything felt rather inane.

One of the cast members, Rosalind Mocroft, did show promise. She led a number of the sketches – particularly the opening one where she played a US army commander – very well. If it wasn’t for her the whole thing would probably collapse.

The overwhelming feeling is that these guys are definitely capable of better. They’re clearly an intelligent bunch, but can’t seem to digress from endless clichés, run of the mill ideas, and base humour. It has to be said, the show’s real saving grace was that is was free.

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Ciaran Stordy

at 05:21 on 16th Aug 2014

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This perceptive breed of sketch comedy from UCL, “Gower Rangers”, is offered for free. Despite performing at the Citrus Club far away from the Fringe centre, they managed to bring in a good amount of spectators and there is certainly good reason for this. The show ran at a fast pace and covered a wide range of topics, ranging from sexism to diplomacy to the plight of an English teacher in a rough school.

The sketch-set started off with a few slow ones that boded ill but were redeemed later. Even when the heaviness in the air left by those first few had been dispelled, the laughs were not constant. There were a few jokes that fell flat in between good sketches, but when something was funny it was sharply so. The show’s swift flow swept up the awkward debris of failed jokes by moving on to the next skit.

The troupe’s comedy was laced with sometimes cutting-edge satire. Over-commercialized airlines were ridiculed; manic United Nations representatives fulfilled national stereotypes during a meeting that quickly slid into panic and violence; Sir David Attenborough’s noble relationship with wildlife became the fulcrum for a debate on whaling. Puns and quips often suggested poignant observation. There was evidently meaningful reflection behind many of the skits. Moral complexities manifested themselves through gags on stage.

Those interested in literature will enjoy the references made to books. In fact, literature served as food for humour on several occasions during the show.

A broad range of topics was addressed, yes, but there was a lack of creativity in execution. “Gower Rangers” did not go beyond the threshold of its containment within the conventional sketch format. The actors went through practised rounds of straight-shot skits in front of their audience without thinking to embellish them in interesting ways. This is not to say that what was performed was not funny, only that no ground is broken by this troupe with “Gower Rangers”.

Nevertheless, the house is guaranteed to laugh at some point. Not only is it free and funny but also thought provoking.

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