Penny Spubb's Prawn Free
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2006
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
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
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
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.