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Unexpected Items

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

There is something very likeable about the Unexpected Items. Unfortunately, it’s not always their sketches.

This six-strong young troupe certainly have their moments, with the occasional curveball line or intriguing idea, but too often the scenes are instantly forgettable, no matter how much energy they put into delivering them.

Sometimes, the characters were over-familiar: the pretentious middle-class parents seasoning their conversation with French phrases or the rugged hockey gals, without a strong enough gag to warrant their inclusion. But lack of strong jokes is a recurring problem even when they stretch themselves with more imaginative set-ups, often hoping the concept alone would be enough to tide them over.

So, for example, the idea of them playing playing cards is no more than an underdeveloped novelty, or a chocoholic orgasmically describing the thrill it gives her is a strong performance piece but in need of a better, well, climax.

Talking of performance, the lively team of Sophie Alderson, Katharine Hill, Matt Lacey, Max Pritchard, Adam Reeve and Tom Williams. are frequently strong, if inconsistent. There are a couple of scenes in which the characters speak in the affected way you only hear in comedy sketches, but largely they carry mediocre material on presence alone.

Typical of this is the portrayal of poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy rhyming to Britney Spears’s Womanizer – a fairly typical lyric-swap song parody, but transformed into something a lot more fun by Hill’s vigour. And their energetically choreographed show-stopper is a great lesson in raising the spirits, no matter what the payoff.

Mostly, though, their debut offering is largely uneventful, although the troupe do sometimes live up to their ‘Unexpected’ boast with a genuinely surprising twist. The amputee pop group, for instance, is alone enough to suggest some promise, but it’ll be at least a year or two before this young group come into their own. But they do have time on their side.

Review date: 6 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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