Giants

Wed 3rd – Sun 28th August 2016

reviews

Julia O'Driscoll

at 21:05 on 7th Aug 2016

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Double act and lifelong friends Will and Barney’s debut at the Fringe comes in the form of 'Giants', an hour long sketch show interspersed with childhood memories, photos, and some pretty slick dance routines. It is clearly a well thought out show, balanced and directed smoothly, and the transitions into each sketch did not affect the pair’s energy or rhythm. They bounce off each other, and gave a professional performance which had the audience on their side.

Some sketches really shone, notably their bitesize tutorials and Will’s visit to the doctor. One particular parody of a live news report requires precise timing and reactions which were spot on, and the outcome is splendid. However, some other scenes seem to peak early on, and fairly good gags are then dragged out longer than necessary to the point of being just mediocre. In these moments, I slightly wished the pair would go back to speaking in incomprehensible SpanFrenchDanish, their own invented language with which they began the show...

Some lines are just a bit too reminiscent of your typical ‘uni-lad’ kind of humour to get a real laugh. At one or two points, I also thought I had missed the joke; when a tea cup is smashed on stage to uncertain sniggers it was unclear if it was intentional and just poorly received, or just an unnecessary mess for the theatre crew to clear up later. Yet, the pair must be given credit for taking on such an ambitious range of genres, including a murder mystery, police interrogation, a love story, and a voyage to the centre of the earth. Their dance routines really are fantastic, and their very own Eurovision Song Contest entry would probably actually have a very good shot at winning.

The duo are inoffensive, humorous, and likeable. They are clearly having a fantastic time performing to Pleasance’s packed out Attic auditorium, and I would say that their afternoon show time is ideal, as they provide a light refresher before the meatier comedy arrives as the day goes on. There is just a little too much going on that could be very good, but is not quite strong enough yet. I am intrigued to see where the pair go from here; there is definite potential and wonderful ideas, and perhaps with a bit of honing and rejigging it could be superb.

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Amy Mace

at 08:44 on 8th Aug 2016

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‘Giants’, a hotly anticipated sketch show from charming Oxford University graduates Will Hislop and Barney Fishwick, is certainly an uplifting watch.

The chemistry shared by the two boys is obvious from the outset, the best of their sketches playing on anecdotes from their long childhood friendship. Sketches that focus on experiences with which the audience could relate or were familiar – heartbreak, university, class stereotyping – provoke the loudest laughs, with such topical themes frequently returned to.

The show opens with a dialogue spoken in the boys’ invented language, ‘SpanFrenchDanish’, which set the tone for the silly and inoffensive humour that characterises the rest of the piece. Hislop’s hyperbolic expression was balanced by Fishwick’s measuring coolness, with deadpan delivery and utter faith in their own material getting (and keeping) the audience on side.

The sketches, however, are a little hit and miss. At moments it is spot on, such as during a performance of their Norwegian Eurovision Song Contest entry which is well-timed and cleverly scripted, and a gag about the delayed connection between a newsreader and his foreign correspondent. A number of sketches start well, but a funny punchline or gag is often prolonged or repeated so that it fell slightly dead by its end. The laughs peter out once the initial thrust of certain jokes loses the virtue of their preliminary surprise: the boys would perhaps do well to shorten their material so as to add pace and shorten the run time, as certain moments feel laboured and the ensuing laughs unsure. Having said that, younger audiences would certainly fall for their Disney baby-faces and slapstick delivery, and are more likely to forgive or indeed overlook this particular criticism. Despite the odd profanity, their material is light-hearted and squeaky clean.

The piece is technically slick, with music seamlessly and subtly setting scenes, and a television screen a fruitful aid to their humorous onstage antics. A cohesion is cleverly added to the thematically scattered show by clever and frequent returns to previous gags. Most importantly, one could not help but warm to the boys, their piece feeling like the culmination of passionate hard work and its performance at the Fringe the realisation of a shared childhood dream. It is thus easy to forgive those ‘almost-but-not-quite’ moments, as the creativity and variation of their set is impressive and showed definite promise.

Experience will undoubtedly straighten out the few misjudgements that lead to laboured or simply unfunny material, and will help the pair achieve the nuance of those comedians more practiced in the craft.

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