The Runaway Lovers

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

Another cracking sketch show at the Pleasance. The five actor-writers have a complex history of working together on other shows, and the familiarity of that has given them terrific strength in the teamwork and in their comic partnerships on stage. This is quick, slick, and sharply focused stuff.

The opening sketch cleverly introduces everybody but then concentrates on a newsreader and his increasingly frustrated floor manager in a sketch could go for ages, but they don't milk it, leaving you wanting more. So when the set-up appears again later you can almost feel the audience rubbing their hands with glee to see the characters again.

The underpinning theme of many of the sketches is the desire for love or the prevention of loneliness, but this isn't remotely sentimental or that overt. Of necessity sketch comedy often deals in stereotypes, but here the result is subtle, original and very funny. John Roy and Lawry Lewin make a wonderful pairing of competitive dad and stepdad, vying for the attention of young Ryan, contrasting middle-class aspirations and working class origins. Any sympathy you have for John Roy as the downtrodden dad is shoved back down your throat in another sketch, by his portrayal of a needy but predatory and manipulative new flatmate.

The glamorous Clare Warde embodies a succession of relationship-hungry women, each pleasingly making her mark on the psychotic spectrum and being a caricature in the very best sense of magnifying an essential truth by a few skilfully exaggerated strokes.

The longer sketches work as hilarious mini-dramas, where as the lightning-quick two handers deliver a set up, a tag and a twist in a punchy 30 seconds. This is sophisticated sketch work which doesn't insult your intelligence with clowning and gurning and is capable of making you shout with laughter whilst feeling a creeping unease at the games people play. Great work.

Julia Chamberlain

 

Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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