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Four Screws Loose: Screwed Over Again

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

Four Screws Loose are one of the successes of the Free Fringe, packing out the sizeable back room at Bannermans every afternoon.

And it’s no surprise, as they are pretty damn good. They might not be reinventing sketch comedy, but they write and perform with confidence and flair – if not yet quite enough consistency – that ensures a enthusiastic, entertaining hour.

I can’t say it started brilliantly. Although the idea of a school photographer as an ultra-camp fashion queen is reasonable, if formulaic one, all the intense preening and stereotypical bitching – not to mention a button-down character called Miss Minge-Drip – didn’t exactly promise subtlety.

It was one of their more energetic sketches, so you can understand why they led with it, if not the most sophisticated. But as the show progressed these four youngish lads with a penchant for poor-quality cross-dressing, took what might be familiar comic tropes, but gave them a twist… rather aptly given their name. So street-talking yoofs – yawn – end up encountering Jesus on his second coming, and so the cliché is taken into enjoyable new territory.

There’s a generous handful of great sketches here. The ten-year-old who speaks like a Twenties New York gangster is inspired, the overfussing, keen-not-to-judge middle-class parents astutely observed, and the mini-episode of Casualty played out only to song lyrics is one of the funniest few minutes on the Fringe despite, or possibly because of, the simplicity of the idea.

Yet there are some duds, too, the meerkat scene was hard work, the concentration needed to follow all the characters popping up and down was not really worth the effort; the ten-second scenes based on Stieg Larson titles were uninventive; and OMG! the girls who totes talk in irrit text speak are, like, so 2009.

Yet the air of rough-edged silliness is infectious and they perform with unshakeable self-belief, and attention to wringing the best jokes out of their set-ups, which the audience certainly appreciates. Proof of this comes in the finale which is as unadventurous of changing the words of a pop song to make it about Britain’s Got Talent, and all those clichés about needing a sob story. But by choosing Bohemian Rhapsody, and making it into an epic rock opera, the simple idea just bursts into life.

This is the Screws’ second Fringe outing, and while they might not quite have everything in place, they are certainly making a good impression.

Review date: 19 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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