Francis & Power: Deep Dark Cuts

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

This is an hour of foul-mouthed filth. But one of the classiest
examples of loud-mouthed filth you're ever likely to experience.

Alan Francis and Barnaby Power lull you into a false sense
of security; they are both well-spoken, middle-class, middle-aged
men. They are proper actors with an ear for writing and delivering
the sort of measured, literal dialogue you hear on grown-up Radio
4 plays.

But with all the gravitas they bring to the sketches, the
joke at their core can be as simple as a man frantically, pathetically
masturbating; or another screaming a string of the worst obscenities
you can think of. Juvenile sex-and-shouting comedy, it seems,
is hard to grow out of.

There are some very good sketches in this collection. That
string of obscenities, for instance, comes from an aggressive
pub patron, systematically abusing a charitable, mild-mannered
chap in the name of recounting what's been said behind his back.
'But I was sticking up for you' It is a great sketch, made entirely
by Francis's unbalanced, schizophrenic rage.

He proves himself a fine comic actor throughout the show,
covering the range from Hancock's hangdog resignation to the
wide-eyed dumb enthusiasm of a Harry Enfield character.

Power, too, live up to his name, his finest creation being
a soap star fearing the latest script portends his character's
demise. In a series of increasing frantic phone calls, he tries
to plead his case while trying to maintain his demeanour. His
voice is saying one thing while his face says quite another.

Elsewhere, we have an aging paedophilic pop impresario hinting
his past exploits with subtlety, even pathos; then there's a
blunt-talking hooker who seems to share Bruce Forsyth's accent,
a loung singer who can't help his potty mouth, or a couple of
clubby types calmly negotiating a menage a tois in a most businesslike
fashion over a whisky in the Nineteenth Hole.

There's often a compromise in sketch shows between gags and
developing rounded characters that lets actors show off, and
this duo tend a little too much towards the latter. But when
they get the balance right, the sketches are cracking.

This could prove to be a fruitful collaboration.

Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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