Sketchup

Sat 8th – Sat 29th August 2015

reviews

Flo Layer

at 09:27 on 19th Aug 2015

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The Exeter Revue have returned for their second Fringe with a performance of Sketchup – a truly shaken-up variety comedy sketch show that takes you from No-Man’s Land to the set of Deal or No Deal. This show features some brilliantly inventive writing: an ‘emotional’ auction and a sketch that followed an exchange between an evasive politician and his wife were particularly funny.

It was brilliant to see that this troupe was equally composed of male and female performers. While Oli Gilford dominated the program to appear in almost every sketch, this arrangement may have been to the troupe's advantage, as Gilford appeared to be the only performer with a fairly convincing ability to swap into a variety of accents. However, both he and Jack Edwards should be commended for their lisping impressions of two existential school children.

Of course you cannot expect top-notch acting in sketch comedy but often the overacted caricatures became a little abrasive, and many of the characters could have been more successful had they demonstrated a little more nuance. Each sketch was nonetheless delivered with abounding energy and enthusiasm; Rachel Tysh and Grace Tilley’s screaming reactions to the ‘emotional’ auction were impressive.

The variety of sketch comedy inevitably meant that some sketches seemed to be weaker than others. My main criticism is that many of them dragged out fairly simplistic ideas for far too long. Edwards’s impression of a seething and manic Noel Cowards on Deal or No Deal, for example, was fairly funny and the sketch had brilliant comic intentions, yet it became tired as it stretched on. It was often the shorter and punchier sketches that often stood out as the best, such as a brief visit to a marriage ceremony and an interrupted exchange of vows.

While one of the great things about sketch comedy is its sense of variety and ability to launch into a huge range of scenes, characters and situations, it feels a little more coherent if there is at least a vague connection between sketches. Only two skits were linked and even then it was merely a return to the same World War Two setting.

In Sketchup, The Exeter Revue managed to deliver a few excellent samples of comic writing to a packed audience, and I hope that in their future Fringe shows the troupe will only get better and better.

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Hannah Matthews

at 12:37 on 19th Aug 2015

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I’ve seen a fair few sketch shows at this year’s fringe, all with a greater technical capacity and higher production values, in venues more suited to performances, than the Exeter Revue’s Sketchup. The basement of Ciao Roma was not the ideal location, but this certainly had no impact on their performance or my enjoyment of it. Covering topics as wide as football in the war, to kids contemplating the existential problems that come with childhood, Sketchup provided an entertaining afternoon’s watching.

The cast exuded energy, providing an upbeat and what should have been fast-paced performance. Sadly the speed was at points delayed by jokes that lingered longer than necessary. The snappier jokes, however, were right on point and showed a real promise for future writing. Oli Gilford and Jack Edwards jumped and darted around the stage. With a few more original scenes, like the philosophical children sketch, the show would improve dramatically.

Special credit goes to Rachel Tysh who certainly held her own in an atmosphere usually, and unfortunately, dominated by predominantly male groups. Her ability to speak at what appeared to be light-speed yet still remain audible when playing the Prime Minister’s secretary was particularly entertaining. Grace Tilley also showed true enthusiasm in her performance of a soldier faced with imminent death. The gender balance in Sketchup was certainly refreshing. Being able to laugh at the joke rather than a poor imitation of a girl’s voice was a huge plus.

It would have been nice for the show have an overarching theme that linked the sketches together. The scenes felt slightly disjointed and a general link would have added to the overall production and perhaps made it a touch more memorable.

The Exeter Revue hasn’t quite made it to the big leagues of University sketch troupes yet, but with it being only their second year at the fringe, their flaws can perhaps be partially excused. This is a perfectly solid and competent production but a lack of experience stops it from attaining real brilliance. No, they’re not the best sketch group out there but if you’re after a free show and a good chuckle, they’re certainly worth a watch.

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