Jamie Douglas: Historique

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

It's a consequence of the ever-burgeoning Fringe ­ and the ever-rising quality bar ­ that a perfectly well written, decently performed sketch show struggles to stand out from the herd. But that, I fear, is the fate awaiting Jamie Douglas's Historique.

The vague premise is that this is a selection of takes on the past. And since, as they put it 'most things that have happened, have happened in the past', it hardly rules out much in the way of source material.

Thus we have a series of momentous epoch-defining episodes, from the eruption of Vesuvius to the bombing of Hiroshima, not to mention the earth-shattering resignation of Stephen Byers as Transport Secretary, all adeptly re-enacted by Douglas and malleable cohort Martin Miller.

As their subject matter only loosely defines them, so too does their style, just straightforward old-fashioned sketches, a couple of minutes each, ending in a punchline and a blackout. If there's any recurring theme, it's the anachronistic application of modern sensibilities to historical events, but that's about it.

There are two running jokes, one rather lame one about natural disasters being a form of poetic justice for someone caught in their path, which really doesn't work, and one about Miller's inability to empathise with any of the tragedies they reenact, which leads to a couple of the show's finest moments as he is regressed into the spirit of famous people gone by, only to become stupidly, childishly obsessed with genitalia.

There are other moments of laugh-out-loud wit, and the show is undeniably well put-together and efficiently written. But without any overriding attitude to drive the comedy, Historique lacks a distinctive character or outlook that would make it memorable. So despite the duo's obvious talents, the show may, sadly, end up consigned to history itself.

Steve Bennett


Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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