Revan and Fennell: Fan Club

Mon 17th – Mon 31st August 2015

reviews

Stasia Carver

at 08:17 on 24th Aug 2015

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Revan and Fennell’s Fan Club, a fast-paced sketch-show, marks comedy twosome Rosie Revan and Alice Fennell’s debut at the Fringe, and there’s lots of promising material here. The two women hurl themselves into an impressively varied array of roles and situations, all shrewdly observed and sparklingly delivered.

A middle-class wife who’s taken up prostitution to pay for the family’s new conservatory is mortified to bump into an acquaintance as she waits on the curb; a country singer battles hysterically with her backing vocalist who threatens to outshine her Whitney Houston rendition; an aspiring yummy mummy at a drinks party is agonisingly familiar as she attempts to drawl convincingly about “artisanal sourdough concept fusion”.

The feisty duo spark well off one another, with lots of (not-so-) gentle ribbing; at one point, Fennell gleefully treats the audience to highlights from the Scotsman’s less-than-favourable review of a show by Revan back in 2009. This is a pair that don’t take themselves too seriously, and the atmosphere is relaxed and informal - but don’t be fooled: their laid-back approach belies the slickness of much of their choreography, with plenty of routines as skilful as they are hilarious.

Nevertheless, the show needs tightening up: the lack of any kind of overarching theme makes for a rather jerky experience, lurching abruptly from one sketch to the next; some scenes, though mildly amusing in themselves – one in which they don police hats, pretend to be in a car and mime along to Tinie Tempah’s Pass Out, for example – seem more filler than killer.

Others lapse into cliché: the wedding-speech-gone-wrong sketch has been done to death; a scene in which the pair hurl stats at one another in an iPhone vs Android battle felt rather obvious. I seemed to diverge from the rest of the audience here, the majority of whom - all middle-aged women - were hooting away even throughout scenes which left me cold; for me, the pair let themselves down with a few slightly lazy sketches that didn’t do justice to their clear comic talent.

Fan Club is definitely a work in progress, but this is nevertheless impressive for a first-time show. Give it another year and they may well be an act to watch out for at the next Fringe; in the meantime, it still makes for an enjoyable hour.

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Llewelyn Hopwood

at 10:09 on 24th Aug 2015

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For those who like conventional humour and know what makes them laugh, Revan and Fennell’s Fan Club is a sketch show that should be put in your Fringe timetable this instant. For those who prefer original comedy that finds a way of laughing that you didn’t think you were capable of, this show would best be left out of your timetable.

It seems a pity that the group open with their funniest sketch as the only way is down from here. A voice-over reminds us of the government cuts to the arts, and then changes to announce that the showing of Lion King is about to start. What follows is an ingenious performance of what would be the budget version of ‘The Circle of Life’ in which sock puppets, teddy bears and cardboard cut-outs replace the expensive props and set of the West End production, with frankly impressive comedic choreography.

Unfortunately, the show doesn’t follow this trajectory. It would seem that this group’s most profligate error is a fusion of predictability and a sketch that drags. A sketch in which two actors in Eastenders grow increasingly frustrated with the bad timing of a newly-hired drummer, who just can’t get the recognisable drum beat right, is well-conceived but tarnished by predictability and being over-extended. Many sketches are the victim of this issue, for the majority of them do lead to a funny ending or a humorous twist, but the cloud of being too long frequently hangs over the final joke and drizzles on one’s desire to laugh.

Pacing is, therefore an issue, as is structuring, for this show would undoubtedly benefit from a re-think of the beginning and the end. Following the aforementioned successful Lion King sketch, the performers unnecessarily introduce themselves, which disrupts the flow. Similarly, in a well-intentioned effort to avoid the classic sketch-show downfall of fizzling away at the end or coming to an abrupt stop, the two decided to write a finale involving a dance number from the musical Chorus Line, incorporating the now all-too-worn-out formula of one actress stealing the limelight and the other stood on the side in awkward amazement.

While this ending and the Ricky Martin outro will cause the audience to dance their way out of the theatre, this is a deflated windup to a disappointing performance.

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