Girl & Dean
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2007
Girl & Dean present their debut full-length Edinburgh show featuring a barrage of whimsical, didactic and not necessarily historically accurate sketches with hand-knitted props – yes, really.
Relying solely on Wikipedia for research, Girl & Dean answer all the big questions: What courses do Learn Direct have to offer the undead? Who is King of the North? Who would be Jesus’ favourite member of Girls Aloud? And all this whilst eating Wagon Wheels and knitting their own costumes backstage.
Girl & Dean are Jess Ransom and Sarah Dean.
Girl And Dean’s gimmick, according to their programme blurb, is that they knit all their own props. Not that you’d really notice; there’s an occasional woolly hat or blanket involved, but when they need a telephone headset, it’s the real thing that they employ.
In fact, it’s hard to see any gimmick in this hour. They are a female double act competently performing an occasionally amusing sketch show. It’s reasonably enjoyable, but lacks any real soul that will distinguish it from countless interchangeably similar shows at this – or any other – Fringe.
They serve up a spoof of the Claims Direct advert, a couple of hopelessly earnest middle-class gap year types, and a brace of meek Irish nuns… Stop me if you’ve seen this before.
The script throws up a few decent gags, but not quite enough of them. And often, when they do get hold of a good joke, such as the children playing capitalist factory owner and hippy workshop collective, they milk the core idea dry.
It’s these youngsters, Tiggy and Jocasta, who produce some of the show’s more memorable moments, especially their takes on what it means to be Northern or Jewish, which take the stereotypes to silly extremes.
Another winner is the spoof lifestyle TV show – again not a strikingly original starting point – but it’s unusually gag-heavy and succeeds because of it. But, unfortunately, for every sketch that works, there are two that don’t.
As expected, each character comes with a different regional accent, skilfully mimicked, showing off their versatility to any casting agents who might be around.
Treated as such a showcase, it works. Jess Ransom and Sarah Dean are more-than decent actresses who’ve put together a slickly professional show, right from day one of the Fringe. But the ideas behind debut seem too safe and too familiar to make much of an impact beyond that.
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett