Harbingers

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

Review from the Brighton Fringe, May 2009

Harbingers are a youthful, sweetly whimsical triple-act, gently enjoyable but needing much more focus in their work.

This 45-minute show comprises long-form sketches that amble unhurriedly around their central ideas, pausing occasionally to land on a clever punchline, but not seeming to be that bothered if they don’t.

One recurring theme is that one of the trio is panicked into inventing a lie – whether it be that they have landed a job as a wizard or is close pal of Nicolas Cage – then are forced to press awkwardly on with the unconvincing deceit. But the gag that comes up more often than any other is that two of them are best mates, keen to lose the annoying third wheel who’s trying to ingratiate himself into the tight friendship.

The outsider varies each sketch, which only serves to highlight a key flaw with the team: that they are all entirely interchangeable. They may have their distinctive looks - the wild-haired slacker, the indie kid with geek-chic style and the willowy nerd – but close your eyes and you can’t tell who’s talking.

They share a voice of detached irony that’s long been prevalent in studenty acts, and seems to be in lieu of a distinctive personality. It infects every character they introduce: from submarine commanders to wrestlers, they are all the same. The awkwardness that runs through most their interactions is too clearly scripted – and you notice because the gags don’t come thick and fast.

Their gentle oddness is appealing though, culminating in the touchingly childlike closing sketch, and a smattering of excellent turns of phrase glimmer brightly. But more editing – and certainly more punchlines – wouldn’t go amiss, as the muted, polite applause that greets each blackout would suggest.


Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Brighton, May 2009

Three-star review from Edinburgh, August 2008:

At first glance the Harbingers seem to be just yet another student sketch group, but a whole load of potential lies beneath the crazy-haired surface. Tommy Holgate, Winston Smith and Vincent Vivash are on the right track to produce something very special, they are just not quite there yet.

There is a nice chemistry between the trio: they possess an obvious talent for comedy acting, and their writing is heading in the right direction, even it is just not quite hitting the mark. They have a keen eye for untapped sources of funny, with some refreshingly surreal looks at the dangerous side of furniture salesmanship and marine biology- but sadly most of their sketches outstay their welcome, fizzling out with no big pay-off or lingering on after the laugh.

The highlight of the show was a shorter sketch based around the old comedy faithful of somebody arriving into the conversation late and misinterpreting a question. This was a beautifully sick and perfectly performed skit, with the only annoyance being that it should have only lasted 20 seconds but again was overworked. Producer/director Ed Gamble needs to take some shears to this show and give it a good editing.

Holgate, Vivash and Smith have a sparkle of what is yet to come, bristling with potential and talent. Writing needs to be sharpened and the Gervaisisms in some aspects of their delivery need to be removed but all in all this is a trio to watch out for in the future.

Reviewed by: Corry Shaw

Review date: 1 Jan 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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