Thursday, 8 November 2012

Mixed Doubles @ Etcetera Theatre Club


Living up to the sporting pun name, there's plenty of comic sparring in this fresh-faced comedy show from Mixed Doubles - a show that came to fruition "when the four members realised that they found each other mildly amusing".  The audience will certainly agree.

Stuck to the side of the stage (and as handouts for the audience) is the Running Order, which immediately highlights the extensive range of sketches on offer.  As you'd expect with so many ideas floating around, the sketches are a mixed bag.  Those that rely on observational comedy are the most successful - from "Mod Conversation" (satirising our growing dependence on social media) and "Girls Making Out" (an odd phenomenon with dire consequences), to the battle of the sexes between "Football for Girls" (a guide to understanding the beautiful game) and "Girl Talk" (a guide to understanding the fairer sex).  Elsewhere, some easy targets were lampooned such as the perpetually miserable Andy Murray, fairytale creatures like the Big Bad Wolf, and the 'Essex Lion' (now a little out of date).  The overall structure is welcome though, keeping the show running at a swift pace.

This structure doesn't always extend to the sketches themselves, however.  The four-strong cast have conceived some hilarious anecdotes and situations that are frequently laugh-out-loud funny and original, though some are in need of development towards a stronger punchline rather than fizzling to blackout.  That said, there are some real gems here with huge comic potential.  Moreover, with the show speeding along at such a fast pace, any flaws are quickly swept aside.  

Most of all, the cast are clearly talented performers.  Accents and impressions are consistently amusing, from the aforementioned Andy Murray, to kiwi customs security officers, Irish gypsies, animals and fictional characters.  The humour is always light-hearted and good-natured; a welcome change from stand-up acts relying on expletives and toilet humour.  Though they gradually warmed-up throughout the show, the cast are likeable and endearing.  As a theatrical sketch show, Mixed Doubles would be well suited to the insatiable appetites of Edinburgh Fringe audiences, but equally, with some further development, the structure lends itself towards a television show.  With such a swift turnaround between scenes, there's no time to be bored.

3/5

Watch: Mixed Doubles is currently running until Saturday 10th November, with more shows in the pipeline.


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