Katy& Rach at the 2010 Brighton Fringe

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

An interesting take on improv, this, for anyone brought up on the quickfire, gag-driven games of Whose Line Is It Anyway? or the Comedy Store Players. Here Katy Schutte and Rachel Blackman make up a long-form story, taking the entire hour and comprising just four long scenes, without a single audience suggestion in earshot, not even to start it off.

What ensues is an impressive theatrical exercise, as they establish and maintain believable characters without faltering. All of us improvise long dialogue every day of course – it’s called having a conversation – but few of even the friendliest chats would run this smoothly.

It’s not, however, a particularly funny piece, although billed as comedy. The personalities they create – in this case including a gun-toting farmer, his bird-watching mate, a mischievous pensioner and precocious six-year-old – are warm, credible and quirky, but rarely exchange sharp one-liners.

In fact, the pair often let opportunities to go down comic routes pass. One reason is that they won’t say anything to undermine what the other has said in the heat of the moment, even if it’s slightly ridiculous and ripe for mockery. Sustaining both characters and the dramatic integrity of the scenes is more important than getting the laughs. Similarly, chances for proceedings to take an overdramatic turn are ignored… that shotgun, for example, is never used in anger against anything more threatening than an imaginary empty tin can.

It means scenes, and indeed the whole show, end without closure, we just move on when the characters run out of things to say. It’s like dipping into a long-running soap opera without knowing how any storyline is resolved.

That said, it’s impossible not to be taken with Katy and Rachel’s talents at creating such credible scenarios with no roadmap, and sustaining free-flowing and engaging dialogue. They did strike a comic seam at one point in this Brighton Fringe performance, albeit one that relied largely on them deadpanning rude words – but primarily this is a technically impressive achievement more than comedy gold.

Review date: 6 May 2010
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Reviewed at: Brighton Otherplace at Bar Broadway

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