Penny Spubb's Prawn Free

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

Review







In their Penny Spubb incarnation, Anna Crilly and Katy Wix


create one of the weirder shows on the Fringe. Near-impossible


to define, their awkward sketches walk the line between success


and failure ­ sometimes falling heavily on the wrong side


- but always remain intriguing and ambitious nonetheless.







This year's offering is less melancholy than last year's strange


debut, but just as fearless as they play their high-risk game


with uncomfortable silences, deliberately gauche acting and punchline-free


scenes.







Several sketches are more conventional this time out, and


much as their bolder creativity is admirable, it's these that


provide the best moments. The grandiose Michael Buble taking


his equally showy family out to lunch is a special highlight,


as is the fairly straightforward spoof of bad stand-up. Some


of the more blatant attempts to be whacky, such as donning prawn


outfits to recreate a lounge singing double act are just too


self-consciously surreal, with little in the script to back it


up.







When they marry this oddness with some purpose and jokes is


when things really excel. Bellamy, the baguette-nosed 'mute'


who could speak perfectly getting a makeover from a Ted-Danson


obsessed madwoman seems, on paper, to be overburdened with contrived


wackiness, but it is, actually, quite brilliant.







The material, though, is very uneven with such wonderful sketches


sitting cheek-by-jowl with those that are almost painfully difficult


to endure. And the duo have an obstinance that means when you


do encounter a bad sketch, they will test your patience with


it to the very limit. Sometimes even the good ones outstay their


welcome, too.







Both Crilly and Wix are very engaging performers, able to


pull off both finely tuned naturalism and big, bold moves with


equal aplomb, and when they allow the mask to slip just a little


you can detect a playful dynamic between them.







This subtlety and charm, combined with their boldness of invention,


is a hugely appealing proposition. But for the second year running,


they are remain in the category of 'not there yet', even though


it would be wonderful if they do crack it.









Steve Bennett







 

Review date: 1 Jan 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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