EFR - Reviews of Ofgagged

Ofgagged

Mon 8th – Sat 13th August 2016

reviews

Jessica Cripps

at 23:53 on 12th Aug 2016

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The young have satire and they are not afraid to use it. This meticulously structured sketch show is polished to perfection, unswervingly paced and mixes the borderline ridiculous with the ingeniously astute to bring a fresh bagful of laughs to the Fringe.

Sketch Club 7 are made up of six “schoolboys” who use their youthful 17-18 years to their advantage. While it is a sketch show, returning characters and ideas help add a sophisticated structure to an otherwise open ended genre. Despite only returning to the Fringe for the second time, be assured that these guys definitely know what they are doing.

The show is primarily traditional satirical sketches that poke fun at contemporary culture, but is shaped by a returning sketch of a behind-the-scenes-style ‘Ofgag’ inspector, or comedy regulator, whose purpose is to correct the political incorrectness of an apparently corrupt Sketch Club 7.

Although this sounds complex on paper, contrasting raw lighting and some definitive role playing on the part of the cast really make the impression that you are bearing witness to some behind-the-scenes satirical tension. This could easily become overdone, but the gentle dispersion of these scenes means that every time they are returned to, they add to the previous parts of the story to build to a hilarious conclusion that rounds off the entire show.

The other sketches usually create humour from niche observations of the absurdities of modern society, from a Cluedo spoof to a conversation between politically correct film producers, and a brilliant university entrance interview parody that I really hope is based on a real life experience.

Gabriel Barton-Singer and Bob Howat have particular stage presence and amazing comedic talent. However every member of the cast complement each other’s strengths and as a result each performance is pulled up to an exceedingly high standard, something which only comes with good chemistry shaped by hours of rehearsal.

What is particularly impressive about 'Ofgagged' is that they nailed the balance between making controversial jokes without pushing them too far. At no point are there moments of discomfort when a scene does not work, or when a joke borders on gratuitously offensive. That seems to be something which happens all too often with sketch shows when a writer runs out of material and relies on black comedy and shock value to fill the gaps.

Sketch Club 7 went for it and absolutely got it right. Maybe the Ofgag Inspector made his mark after all?

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Izzie Fernandes

at 11:13 on 13th Aug 2016

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Swanky, suave, and sophisticated, if it is satire you are looking for you have hit the jackpot. Following last year’s succession of sell outs with their sketch show ‘Night of My Life’, Sketch Club 7’s return to the Fringe is keenly received. Our back row, back left seats in an, albeit reasonably sized studio space bear testament to this.

Is there a typo on the program? Sketch club 7? There are only six cast members. Oh wait, a sex doll on stage soon clears that up- public schoolboy humour ensues.

My next confusion is that amidst the cast, four of the six were born in 1998 with a real baby in 1999. I mention this not to patronize but to emphasize the talent of this youthful cast, who perform beyond their years.

The show is well written and clearly structured with sharp scene changes which keep me on my toes. But is this real or writing? The line is blurred. Tricky times lie ahead for Sketch Club 7 as they come face to face with the reality of a personal relationship soured by professionalism. Following disgruntling rumors about political incorrectness and elitist self indulgence, Sketch cast member Gabriel Barton-Singer is appointed a comic inspector of his own show- and we’re off.

'Offgagged’s raucous slating of British politics is performed with unbroken energy. Six suited and booted boys, minimalist props and an admirable ability to create humor out of hypocrisy reigns. The nod towards British nepotism is undeniable. This show is a perfect satirising of the archetypal white collared Tory delivered from the horse’s mouth.

With their St Paul’s education behind them, these boys know the joke better than anyone. Unified and engrossed in their own performances, they quite literally live and breathe upper middle class, next stop Tory politics. The hilarious irony comes with their ability to slander the very institutions which, given a few years, they will likely dominate.

The varying sketches cover all manner of hilarities. Privatizing cooperation’s, queuing, a swear box, immigration, Catholic priests and alter boys all feature. With months of political calamities behind us, has there ever been a better time for such raw honesty and dryness of classic British banter than now?

Sketch Show 7’s journey is a masterpiece of characterized by sarcasm, lampooning, and perfect observances. Perfectly timed one liners will have you awash with ripples of laughter.

This British Public school banter is performed with utter comic nuance. I leave feeling patriotic, proud to be at one with the astounding dryness of great British humour.

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