Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2007
Sketches with Roisin Conaty and Caroline Ginty
New female double act The Cakes show a lot of promise with their debut show. It’s flawed – the pace is uneven and the girls are sometimes too solemn – but there are enough good ideas and engaging performances to intrigue.
From the start, their premise – or ‘lie’ as they more accurately call it - is neat: that they’ve bought a second-hand camcorder from eBay and this show is the footage from its various previous owners that they found on it.
The first sketch is one of the best scenarios, and proves an impressive calling card for the duo – stand-up Roisin Conaty and actress Caroline Ginty. They play a couple of agoraphobics sending a video message to the outside world. There’s something intrinsically melancholic about from-the-heart video messages from someone you don’t know, possibly because we’re so used to seeing such footage from beyond the grave, but performing to the unseen camera certainly gives a tragic edge to this sketch.
But it’s not bleak, and includes more than a couple of great lines. Conaty sounds uncannily like David Brent in this, nervously irritated, always trying to impose her superiority over her fellow sufferer. She also manages to capture the same naturalistic rhythm, reflecting the way people talk in real life, rather than scripts.
Not all the characters are so subtle. Ginty skilfully plays a performance poet with a canon of verses about bodily functions, then later a worthy-but-useless Fringe actress staging her one-woman epic melodrama When Crystal Meth Came To Town. Conaty’s suicidal 37-year-old seeking to end it all out of sheer boredom rather than abject depression was also a highlight, tackling the subject from an obtuse angle.
A bizarre teenage spiritualist stuck in the woods with her best friend is bizarre, Conaty giving her a slow, baritone that hinders the pace of a glum scene that already goes on too long. But they cause each other to corpse, breaking the mood wonderfully, and they should exploit that chemistry with a bit more unplanned interaction more than the couple of brief moments when it does occur.
There’s nifty use of language in many of the sketches. Punchlines like ‘you must learn to edit your metaphors’ don’t work on the page, but they do on the stage, even if many lines are more worthy of a smile than a belly laugh.
Not everything connects well with the audience; a brisker approach to some of the sketches and more fluidity in the performances would help that. But The Cakes are definitely a distinctive duo who have created some memorable scenes in this capable debut.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett