Maeve Higgins & Nick Coyle: A Rare Sight

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

Well, this was disappointing – a hard lesson in what happens when awkward ‘anti-comedy’ goes badly wrong.

By acting as if investing any modicum of effort or energy into their show would be some sort of artistic betrayal, the normally charming Irish comic Maeve Higgins and her Australian sidekick Nick Coyle are left with a painfully sluggish hour that their ill-thought-through material cannot hope to fill.

At best it’s like some experimental acting workshop, at worst it’s like watching two slightly backwards children at play, as Coyle, for example, dresses a banana in a napkin poncho then douses it in Diet Coke, just because. And even when they do come up with a good, quirky idea – such as the sketch showing how to use flirtation in job interviews – it’s done with such reluctance that it barely feels worthy of being put in front of an audience.

The concept, though only loosely adhered to, is that the pair are brother and sister giving a self-improvement presentation, despite Coyle harbouring unrequited incestuous feelings towards his sibling. He has to spell this out, however, as there’s absolutely no chemistry between them on stage as, again, showing emotion seems to be considered a sign of weakness.

They have a whiteboard that they write a few things on – pointlessly, as it can’t be read even from the front rows – some chunky Eighties style headsets and a woefully amateurish attitude that they hope will see them through. What they really need, however, is some well-written material.

One woman in the sparse Easter Day audience seemed to love every minute, but the rest seemed bemused, laughing politely now and then but unwilling to indulge this under-prepared mess. If surreal whimsy is your bag, then this festival has plenty of more accomplished offerings – and if it isn’t, you should give A Rare Sight an even wider berth. A shame, given the pedigree of the performers involved.

Review date: 6 Apr 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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