The Edinburgh Revue: Sketches in Scarlet

Fri 7th – Sat 29th August 2015

reviews

Beckie Rutherford

at 08:15 on 11th Aug 2015

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The Edinburgh Revue’s show was marked by a nagging amateurish feel right from the off and the overall quality of the sketches can only be described as average at best. The first handful were raced through with a keen impatience to deliver punch lines – a shame given that at the start the writing was actually at its strongest.

The show was structured by the recurring appearance of a squabbling red-cloaked cult and their six characters became the agents for the uninspiring series of sketches which followed. The Edinburgh Revue played it safe by opting for fairly innocuous material – the boldest topic was probably debating the potential “banter of joining ISIS”, but it was a typical satire of British lad culture rather than a provocative take on Middle Eastern politics.

Other subjects included the Great British Bake Off, gap years and Scooby Doo, all of which had potential but often missed the mark. One that did stand out was a parody of work experience where a psychopathic headmistress’s sinister attempt to pack one of her students off to an abattoir was bewilderingly funny. An impression of Daniel Day-Lewis’s method acting also had moments of wit but, as was the case with all too many of the sketches, it dragged on for too long and the joke wore thin.

Unfortunately some sketches such as the ‘Name that Baby’ TV game show fell completely flat and the whole show would have been sharpened had they been omitted. Others were downright bizarre and I’m sure I wasn’t the only person wondering what on earth was meant to be funny about a famous dolphin arguing with a woman from the Make-A-Wish foundation.

The increasing dynamism of the music that separated each sketch also seemed ironically at odds with the growing weakness of the show. Whilst all six actors were proficient in their parts, the material itself was really too feeble to facilitate any stand-out performances.

That said, the overall silliness of the show is inoffensive and you’d need a heart of stone not to chuckle at least a few times. It could even be said that going to a free and suitably cringey sketch show crammed into a dingy venue on Cowgate is all part of the Fringe experience. However, if you’re searching for clever and innovative sketches this summer, this does not make the cut and I’d advise you to look elsewhere.

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Izzie Fernandes

at 10:01 on 11th Aug 2015

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I suppose that ‘Scarlet’ sums this up if you equate it with the general feeling of discomfort and embarrassment that I experienced during what felt like a long 45-minute sketch show. The dark, black draped studio embellished with skulls and roses smelled little better than the pub’s dingy, stale smelling stairway by which we entered.

With 5 hooded figures clad in scarlet red capes surrounding their kneeling captive, who was grimacing in anticipation of some satanic initiation, it was as if I were watching a bizarre Ku Klux Klan, Harry Potter mash up. Once this, “demonic bollocks” (I quote), was in motion the general gist of what this 6 person experimental teenage cult was getting at became clear. 23 “out of body episodes” engendered by their ritual were to be played out. The closest I came to an out of body experience was dreaming that they might quit playing dress up I might walk outside into the airy street.

The sporadic humour, which drew occasional laughs from the accommodating audience, was in fairness caused by more than just the tendency towards crude language. A liquid filled baby, a mother trying to seduce her son and a discussion of maggots and horseshit between two flies – one of whom then failed to locate the door despite his “52 eyes” – demonstrated some humorous imagination. An amusing rendition of Scooby Doo’s realization that he was not in fact a dog but a human was also enjoyable until this too descended into Shaggy literally shagging a squeaking Daphne’s leg on demand.

If below-par jokes concerning terminal illness, feminist education and ethnic equality are to be made, it may be an improvement to see them more subtly scripted so as to prevent an entire row from leaving during the following scene change. This garish humour was almost pantomime but without the gooey, heart-warming surety that you will at very least experience a few laughs. The plot did display an variety of characters and it would have been nice to perhaps see more of the strongest actress, whose mad, (vegan vibe) headmistress act was believable. There were some redeeming features and possibly, with more fine-tuning, what is currently an unremarkable show may have capacity for improvement

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