EFR - Reviews of Chaos Theory

Chaos Theory

Thu 20th – Sun 30th August 2015

reviews

Tess Davidson

at 10:33 on 26th Aug 2015

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Chaos Theory is an original concept in which the 25 sketches are performed in a random order, only to be decided each night through the shuffling of a deck of cards. Performed by Hannah Mamais, Stephen Colfer and Niall Cutler, it makes for an interesting idea, albeit it one that is slightly unsure of itself when it is on stage. However as it is still very much a work in process, this can easily be ironed out.

The pace was rapid throughout, the transitions between the sketches, of which the order was just as new to them as it was to us, smooth and without flaw. The staging was minimal, costumes consisting of blue boiler suits, props basic and often requiring the use of imagination. As such, this enabled the audience to engage more with the sketch and performers in a more intimate manner.

The use of physical humour was to their strength, a concoction of distorted body shapes and facial expressions were almost innocent, an emphasis on movement to create humour creating a sense of more traditional comedy which, after the boring over-emphasis on sex and poor-me-I’m-single routines of the Fringe, made a welcome change.

It was a bizarre array of sketches from babysitter detectives to a gentleman’s wager, the lack of direction or continuity reinforcing the theme of chaos throughout. With a strong technical team behind them the use of music and visual images added depth to the sketches, enabling them to flesh them out further.

As with the world of comedy, it was far from perfect, with the dialogue of some of the sketches becoming too long so that the humour lost its substance. A greater care could be taken to ensure a balance was maintained. Similarly, an over-dependence on concepts such as detectives were used excessively in several sketches which meant that once again, the humour was diluted. However these were very minor issues, and overall it was a show of stand-out, star worthy performances from all three, in particular Hannah Mamais.

All in all, this made for a very enjoyable evening. It was refreshing to see comedy that didn’t depend upon their unadventurous sex life but instead, innovative and unusual new material.

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Flo Layer

at 10:41 on 27th Aug 2015

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Chaos Theory is a sketch show with a slight twist: twenty-five separate sketches are performed in an entirely random order, which means that there are too many combinations to even mention. It is a clever trick; one which not only keeps the performers on their toes, but keeps the whole show feeling fairly fresh.

All three performers demonstrated an unwavering energy and enthusiasm in each and every part they embodied. It was good to see that each of them appeared to play to their strengths: Niall Cutler worked his malleable facial expressions to silly and spectacular effect; Hannah Mamalis distorted her body and posture to become a wide variety of characters from an alluring ‘dame’ to a doddering old woman at a séance; and Stephen Colfer portrayed the more upstanding or straight-laced characters with aplomb.

While many of the sketches garnered big laughs from the audience, for many there was only a smattering of chuckles. It’s inevitable that some sketches proved to be more popular than others. The writers (Stephen Colfer, Heber Hanly and James McDonnell) should be commended for such witty observational comedy as in the Coffee sketch, where the hipster appreciation of coffee, its origins, flavour and ritual is taken just that one step too far. In others, such as the hilarious Babysitter Detectives sketch the group proved their impeccable comic timing and

This show is guaranteed to take you on a journey. The imagination behind some of the troupe’s material was brilliant and it was a delight to watch a scene in a coffee house shift to space to an advertising studio (and avoid the WW2 trenches which appear to be the necessary sketch in most comedy shows at the Fringe this year). Each transition was smooth and the performers never faltered when faced with the next randomly chosen scene.

Inevitably some sketches felt a little weaker and in certain scenes I wasn’t sure exactly where the writers were trying to go. However, the random selection process worked wonders to keep the pace of the production up and collect the otherwise hodge-podge collection of entirely disparate scenes into a wacky and enjoyable show.

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