Penny Spubb's Prawn Free

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett


In their Penny Spubb incarnation, Anna Crilly and Katy Wix

create one of the weirder shows on the Fringe. Near-impossible

to define, their awkward sketches walk the line between success

and failure ­ sometimes falling heavily on the wrong side

- but always remain intriguing and ambitious nonetheless.

This year's offering is less melancholy than last year's strange

debut, but just as fearless as they play their high-risk game

with uncomfortable silences, deliberately gauche acting and punchline-free


Several sketches are more conventional this time out, and

much as their bolder creativity is admirable, it's these that

provide the best moments. The grandiose Michael Buble taking

his equally showy family out to lunch is a special highlight,

as is the fairly straightforward spoof of bad stand-up. Some

of the more blatant attempts to be whacky, such as donning prawn

outfits to recreate a lounge singing double act are just too

self-consciously surreal, with little in the script to back it


When they marry this oddness with some purpose and jokes is

when things really excel. Bellamy, the baguette-nosed 'mute'

who could speak perfectly getting a makeover from a Ted-Danson

obsessed madwoman seems, on paper, to be overburdened with contrived

wackiness, but it is, actually, quite brilliant.

The material, though, is very uneven with such wonderful sketches

sitting cheek-by-jowl with those that are almost painfully difficult

to endure. And the duo have an obstinance that means when you

do encounter a bad sketch, they will test your patience with

it to the very limit. Sometimes even the good ones outstay their

welcome, too.

Both Crilly and Wix are very engaging performers, able to

pull off both finely tuned naturalism and big, bold moves with

equal aplomb, and when they allow the mask to slip just a little

you can detect a playful dynamic between them.

This subtlety and charm, combined with their boldness of invention,

is a hugely appealing proposition. But for the second year running,

they are remain in the category of 'not there yet', even though

it would be wonderful if they do crack it.

Steve Bennett


Review date: 1 Jan 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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