Leeds Tealights: Fix Us

Sat 5th – Sat 26th August 2017

reviews

Mark Bogod

at 13:09 on 18th Aug 2017

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In some ways, sketch comedy can be tricky to review; there isn’t any character development, there’s not much of an emotional aspect, and we can’t make too much reference to specific sketches for fear of ruining the fun. The flip-side of this is that sketch comedy is easy to judge – we simply look at how much and how intensely we are made to laugh. Fortunately, during ‘Fix Us’, I was laughing most of the way through. And this wasn’t polite or sympathetic tittering either. Throughout the show the audience howled with genuine belly-laughter at this highly skilled sketch quintet.

In ‘Fix Us’, the Leeds Tealights present sketches on an impressive range of subjects from sexism to drama exams, even daring to tackle some political issues (such as in the NHS sketch, my personal favourite). A lot of the sketches centred around the relationships between the members of the group themselves (after all, no Fringe student sketch show is complete without this sort of meta-sketch). These were handled particularly well, both as stand-alone sketches, but also as a developing theme that provided a unifying thread for the show. One running joke concerned a critic in the audience – not discomforting at all!

It is clear from the first five minutes that the Tealights are in possession of all the talent and hard work needed to create a top-tier sketch show. Timing, satire, word-play and great rapport are all present. None of the jokes are overdone - frequently the downfall of a good sketch show - and the frequent dancing sketches are delivered with energy and skill. The five form a tight group, and appear highly well-rehearsed as the slickness of the show is formidable.

Despite all of the hilarity this show delivers, it has room to go further. It would be nice to see the Tealights take greater risks with their material if they want to take this show to the pinnacle of student comedy. Great as this show was, it could do with more of the bite and sharpness displayed by say the Durham Revue or Studio 9. Having said that, I think many in the audience also found it refreshing to see a comedy show without such a focus on social issues.

Nevertheless, there isn’t any doubt about it: go and see this show. You will be guaranteed a good laugh and a good time, and the five members of the tealights are without doubt ones to watch in the future of sketch comedy.

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Clarissa Mayhew

at 13:12 on 18th Aug 2017

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Brought to the Fringe by the University of Leeds, the Leeds Tealights are a well drilled comic outfit with a sparky fast paced set that was, at times, side splittingly funny.

Part of the great energy of the show must be attributed to the strongly physical side of much of the humour: performers chuck their bodies hither and thither across the stage, a Starbucks becoming a tornado of flailing limbs. High octane music and sound effects kept up the pace of the show, enabling the smoothest of transitions between sketches which ranged from drama classes to hospital rooms with the most minimalistic of stage set ups.

Randomly, chain food shops are an ongoing theme across the show with fights between the major supermarkets turning into personal attacks and a suspiciously porn-y Subway that used cheesy sleazy music and the technical team to great effect. A sketch about the NHS under attack gave a novel twist to the political slogan with aliens and ‘doctor doctor’ jokes ‘attacking’ the ‘N! H! S!’ in a whirlwind of sound and coloured lights.

From start to finish the performance was engaging and imaginative - with some utterly bizarre episodes so funny even the performers on stage were struggling to hold a straight face. Em Humble gave a stand out act creating riotously funny characterisations.

Without being repetitive, the Tealights seemed to have a couple of key interests. An odd fixation of the all male but one show was gay jokes - every other scene seemed to depend upon some pseudohomoerotic tension, like the comic sense of a teenage schoolboy. The show returned again and again to the relationships between the performers and their own comic dynamics. Comments about trying to impress a theatre critic in the audience put yours truly in an awkward spot, but this extended joke leant a kind of structure to the piece and a metatheatrical frame through which the comedians could laugh about their own production. Unpretentious and self ridiculing, they turned the comic lens on thesps, dramatic ambition and artistic vanity to many chortles.

Last of all - what an amazing space! Held in a vault draped in red hangings, The Caves, hidden on Cowgate, are an Edinburgh gem - an atmospheric, kooky setting for a cracking comedy sketch show.

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