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Pros From Dover II

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

Another Fringe, another line-up for these Sugababes of the comedy circuit, back with another finely-crafted collection of sporadically brilliant sketches.

The Pros From Dover take their name from an American slang term for external experts called in as troubleshooters, which is rather apt as they are talented and versatile, but difficult to pin down to a distinctive ‘brand’ of comedy that is unmistakably them.

The closest definition might that they take a single oblique, slightly silly, idea in a Pythonesque vein and extend it into a full scene, acted with an impeccable seriousness that heightens the absurdity of the gag.

It’s therefore the convincing performances that makes the show. Phil Whelans tends to take the imposing, authority figures while the accomplished Richard Glover excels as the battered everyman, trying to hold it together whatever life throws at him. Sean Garratt, the new third member is comparatively under-used, but fits in with the founding duo seamlessly.

Of the three, Glover gets the stand-out scene as a post-traumatic chicken – bringing a poignancy and understated wit to a scene that never takes the easy whimsical route. The best gag, though, comes amid an intense police interrogation, as it snaps to an hilariously unexpected payoff sure to catch you by surprise. Most scenes contain at least one skilful flourish. from the delightful visual gag in the Frankenstein scene to the knowing deconstruction of the sketch involving vociferous fans on the terrace.

Some of the skits, however, don’t fully exploit the idea at their heart, while a couple more outstay their welcome. It sometimes seems that the trip struggle to work out where to go once they’ve come up with an inspired, offbeat idea such as the man who invents the word ‘and’.

Finishing sketches is an often insurmountable problem, too, resorting to desperate measures such as one character shooting another in the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire spoof, or simply just grinding to a halt, then taking a bow to indicate the scene’s over.

Sketch acts much more feted than this threesome can’t be consistently funny, underlining the clichéd ‘hit and miss’ nature of the genre. But the weakest half of this show is still decent, and the best half excellent.

Review date: 6 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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