In These Shoes at the 2010 Brighton Fringe

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

In These Shoes was the theme tune to Catherine Tate's first TV series. But now it has another comedy meaning –a split-personality sketch show: a mix of shouty, unsubtle and clunkily unconvincing caricatures relieved with a small handful of subtle, inventive and musically adroit songs from Jay Foreman.

He provides the male component of the skits, too, alongside Mandy Dassa, who wrote it all, and Jen Aries. The 45-miunte show is brash in tone, with a series of larger-than-life characters ranting away hysterically. From the vegetarian who not-so-secretly craves meat to the gym bunny who gushes about her fitness regime before mainlining whipped cream, the difference between each personality’s ideals and actual behaviour is never particularly nuanced.

The writing tends to be over-wrought, too, never adhering to the maxim that less is more and ramming the point home with little finesse. When the point is so weak as Ryanair’s penny-pinching, charge-for-everything attitude, the effect is especially laboured.

Performances – Dassa’s especially – are equally exaggerated, creating the idea that this is a stage-school showcase of loud grotesques rather than anything more credible or well-observed. However, subtle wouldn’t have played too well in this late-night, free festival pub slot, where at least a couple of well-lubricated girls in the audience couldn’t keep their vacuous inner monologues to themselves.

Against this landscape of shrieking New York fashionistas and loony loo attendants, Foreman’s delicately funny ballads make for a strange contrast. But with quirky premises, such as his quest for a ‘slightly imperfect girl’ and a celebration of the joys of stealing food, they pique the interest and generate the laughs. He has his own solo show of such compositions, so his association with this blunt and bawdy offering is a riddle.

Review date: 10 May 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Brighton The Temple

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