Sisters: On Demand

Wed 1st – Sun 26th August 2018

reviews

Charlie Norton

at 11:05 on 13th Aug 2018

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The brilliantly talented Christy White-Spunner and Mark Jones prove themselves to be a comedy double act worth seeing with ‘Sisters: On Demand’; an hour-long sketch-show which fuses accessible gags and dystopian satire reminiscent of Black Mirror.

The pair are openly conscious of the need to establish themselves amongst the proliferation of white male comedy acts at the Fringe, broaching the subject immediately with a thoughtful feminist quip. Though ‘On Demand’ thankfully does not labour to fulfil a politically correct mission statement, this self-awareness provides a backbone to their comedy: Sisters capture the zeitgeist with relevant state-of-the-times observations, broaching questions of racism and sexism through incisive satirical jibes.

Sisters supply an enthusiastic audience with a huge range of material – from the rhythmic and inventive ‘Sunshine on Leith’ to the fantastically absurd ‘The Airline’ – transforming everyday scenarios, such as taking an eye test or sitting a French oral, using a wealth of unexpectedly bizarre characters. The problem of putting forward these apparently unrelated sketches in a cohesive manner is ingeniously tackled through well-timed recurring gags and the decision to put the audience in charge of the running order.

Whilst it is perhaps reductive to single out one sketch from such a high-quality line-up, ‘Bad News’, which depicts a DJ commissioned by the government to help doctors deliver bad news to patients, is hysterically funny through a well-crafted combination of audience participation, character comedy and impeccable tech. The success of ‘Bad News’ is almost equalled by the other skits, which garnered a virtually constant stream of laughs due to razor-sharp punchlines. However, a minor criticism might be made of a couple of the sketches, such as ‘En Français’, which minorly suffered from brief moments of low energy due to their length. This said, Sisters have clear chemistry, magnifying one another’s onstage personalities. The relentlessly pessimistic White-Spunner, for instance, becomes increasingly exasperated with Jones’ juvenile insistence on delivering hilariously terrible one-liners – ‘Netflix? More like… sketchflix’ (a recurring favourite). This relationship enables the audience to gather rapport with the pair, creating an atmosphere of enthusiasm to participate in the action. Another stroke of genius is the dystopian plot twist, which provides a sense of narrative that crucially ties together the material.

‘Sisters: On Demand’ is skilfully constructed and packs a unique comic punch, with Christy White-Spunner and Mark Jones managing to negotiate an individual brand of comedy through a succession of intricate and generally fast-paced sketches. If Sisters really were available ‘on demand’, I would certainly watch them again!

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Emilia Andrews

at 13:04 on 13th Aug 2018

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‘Sisters: On Demand’ begins on the unusual note that the two people who make up the show are men named Mark Jones and Christy White-Spunner and are definitely not sisters. Despite the misleading title, the show is very self-aware and jokes about how it perpetuates the problem of the lack of women in comedy. White-Spunner (deadpan) even gets the men in the audience to apologise to women for everything they’ve ever done.

Set up like a product launch, the show centres on a Netflix-style website or, “Sketchflix” as White-Spunner calls it, which the audience can use to select which sketch they’d like to see performed. This unique approach to sketch comedy and audience participation makes the show an attention-grabbing performance from the beginning. Due to the show being centred on the product which requires visual on screen projection, it relies on the aid of a projector. This is extremely well done as Jones and White-Spunner manage to sync their performance with both one another and the accompanying technology with impeccable precision, yet without seeming formulaic. Instead, they have a natural and engaging stage presence.

Jones and White-Spunner bounce off of each other in a performance which runs seamlessly from the product pitch to the on demand audience selected sketches and back again. Much of the show gets its laughs from poking fun at political correctness but in a way which succeeds in not seeming overdone or naff. This is a show which is socially aware but not preachy - the running gag, “it’s 2016, wake up” cleverly takes the mick out of the sensitivity of contemporary society and its obsession with ‘staying woke’.

‘Sisters: On Demand’ makes use of bizarre concepts and circumstances the whole way through, with hilarious outcomes. Jones and White-Spunner do an excellent job of taking the everyday and transforming it into something funny and unexpected. One of my favourite sketches, “Bad News” certainly does this, featuring a new government initiative which involves Jones as “DJ Saturday Night Live” performing a song whilst White-Spunner, playing a doctor, tells a patient that she is dying. One particularly entertaining part of the product pitch is when Jones tries to sell the audience the show’s merchandise, which descends into him trying to pass off a load of products related to falconry (from his falconry hobby days, of course) as ‘Sisters: On Demand’ merchandise.

True to its form, the show ends on an unexpected robot-related plot twist – and if the idea of that doesn’t make you curious enough to go and see the show, I don’t know what will. This is by far the best sketch comedy I have seen in a long time and I could not stop laughing from start to finish. If you’re out looking for laughs, I simply can’t recommend it enough.

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