review star review star review star review blank star review blank star

Wit Tank – Fringe 2009

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Jay Richardson

Subscribing to the notion that sketches are funnier the louder and more forcefully you present them, WitTank quickly betray their origins as a university-assembled outfit.

Slimmed down to a quartet of Guy Corbett, Kieran Boyd, Naz Osmanoglu and Mark Cooper-Jones since last year, and sporting a uniform of shirts, ties and Converse sneakers, the Durham graduates offer calculated zaniness, with weak endings to many scenes only partially disguised by sudden blackouts and thunderous blasts of music.

They’re fortunate that their cavernous venue’s gloomy ambience supports this tactic and to their credit, they make inventive use of the surroundings: Corbett having a breakdown over a croissant before haring off into the darkness, his anguished howls seeming to reverberate from a netherworld; Osmanoglu, looking like a twisted Dominic Monaghan, creepily gurning for all he’s worth or bellowing as a take-no-shit Bear Grylls intimidating cub scouts.

Sadly, much of their writing lacks distinction, a business conference panicked after a gremlin consumes a Japanese investor is played for the typically British potential of misplaced embarrassment, while their grim reinterpretation of The Snowman animation is an idea more satisfyingly explored elsewhere on the Fringe by Clever Peter.

The portrayal of an illicit, underground teaching scene, with subjects treated like addictions is so much third-rate Chris Morris that Boyd appropriates his vocal cadences syllable for syllable. A domestic family scene is played out to simply enquire whether the audience are ready for the terrible fate of one of its participants, less funny or shocking as smug and self-congratulatory.

Still, Osmanoglu has a charismatic physicality and Corbett delivers a nicely judged, mood-swinging mediation on residing in Hell. There’s a funny glimpse of the four enjoying a bath together and a deliciously dark take on Bring Your Daughter To Work Day.

Notwithstanding a tedious supermarket bag packing sketch, in which you anticipate the anti-climatic punchline minutes in advance, they genuinely save their best for last – an explicit re-imagining of Nelson’s last words that endearingly demands Cooper-Jones maintains Hardy’s dignity while Osmangolu does his darndest to make him corpse, and a romantic meeting of misfits that morphs via Michael Jackson’s Thriller into a full-on parody of Foreigner’s power ballad I Want To Know What Love Is, ensuring they end the hour on a once unimaginable high.

Review date: 27 Aug 2009
Reviewed by: Jay Richardson

What do you think?

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.