Hot Mess: Bezzie Mates

Wed 15th – Wed 22nd August 2018

reviews

Jasmine Silk

at 00:52 on 20th Aug 2018

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Max Levine and Anna Piper are a comedy duo who are full of potential, and this is a show which showcases their potential with mixed success. ‘Hot Mess: Bezzie Mates’ is a fast-paced hour aimed at the millennial crowd, which switches between short comedy sketches and videos of them writing the show. After each sketch they address the audience to comment on the sketches and to link the show together, with a confidence which is testament to their stand-up abilities.

This is a good model for the show as it gives them room to bring across their sketches’ messages, tongue in cheek as they may be. For example, there is a brilliant series in which David Guetta, Jason Derulo, and Akon have to sit down and discuss their more problematic lyrics, and afterwards they rub their fingers together and point out that it was about toxic masculinity. It is an almost lesson-like structure, carried out with enough irony to avoid patronising the audience. However, it made the show feel disjointed at times; while the framing works on some occasions, at others it infringed on the performance.

'Hot Mess' is consciously relevant and relatable to other young people, which shows that they know their audience. For example, one of the funniest sketches is the very first one where they voice the thoughts of themselves clubbing over the speakers as they dance awkwardly with each other, perfectly capturing what so many of us would have running through our own minds. However, the videos of themselves composing the show often seem too scripted to feel as though I could have been really watching relatable ‘Bezzie Mates’, and they lack the same audience awareness that makes the other sketches work.

Most of the sketches have brilliant concepts and cover a range of themes and approaches, however there is sometimes the sense that the follow through of the ideas falls short. This is partly due to their speed, as they are all quite short sketches. While this works for pace, and fitting in so much content into an hour, it does not always benefit the sketches themselves. Many could do with a little more set up or sense of build, as they often lose the element of the unexpected that can make or break a laugh.

This is not to say that we weren’t laughing; this is still a very enjoyable show to watch, and with a little more development it could easily make them everyone’s new ‘Bezzie Mates’ at the fringe.

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Sally Christmas

at 09:54 on 20th Aug 2018

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Written and performed by Anna Piper and Max Levine, 'Hot Mess: Bezzie Mates' is a show that knows what it wants to be, but never quite manages it. A two-person sketch show is not an easy thing to do, and Hot Mess showed a lot of promise – but ultimately, they didn’t deliver.

When the pair ran out onto the stage, I was excited. The opening scene – which tells the story of how they met while "sexy dancing" at each other in a club – was performed with some great energy and got a lot of laughs. However, the "quick-fire sketches" that followed didn’t quite pack the same punch. They felt a little rushed, and didn't quite hit the mark with the audience. There were a few great moments – a series of sketches about the development of the Macarena were very well done – but overall it was an underwhelming start.

The rest of the show was made up of longer scenes which, again, were generally lack-lustre. When they got it right, it was funny. The highlights of the show included a brilliant set of fish puns, a scathing impression of Theresa May and a hilarious sketch on the lyrics of Calvin Harris, which proved the two were capable of good comedy. But unfortunately, these moments were the exception and not the rule. On paper, every scene had potential, but the delivery was forced, over the top, and very hit-and-miss. Videos supposedly showing them writing the sketches were spread throughout the show, but other than the occasional one-liner, they didn’t really add anything to the performance, and they felt a little odd. None of the sketches fell completely flat, with most jokes getting some kind of reaction from the audience, but equally, nothing ever had us all in stitches.

The energy that Piper and Levine maintained throughout the performance was commendable, the show was generally well thought out, and some of the writing was good. But overall, it was a disappointing watch. Something about the performance just didn't work, and it really is a shame, because you couldn’t help but think that a few changes would have made all the difference.

In the words of Levine himself, nothing looks bigger than a fish you haven’t caught, and for me that sums up the 'Hot Mess: Bezzie Mates'. I left the venue thinking about what it could have been, rather than what it was.

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