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Jigsaw: Fringe 2012

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Julian Hall

This sketch threesome (Dan Antopolski, Tom Craine, Nat Luurtsema) fit sketches around themselves, and not vice-versa, while their easy charm goes a long, long way to lift individually enjoyable sketches into a satisfying whole.

This ease is underlined by the way the three morph into scenes: often using the space they ended up in the last sketch as their starting point for their next one. Having a screen decorated with an logo that gives them a kind of New Avengers identity, rather than using the wings for changes, also gives them a sophisticated zip.

Without getting fixated on surreal concepts, analogous skits, interpersonal shenanigans or an overarching narrative, the trio are free to fly through a landscape of characters with unexpected behavioural quirks. There's the man who dupes people into getting a semen sample from him, the therapist who slyly uses funk music to help his patients (carried off with a convincing amount of loopyness and not overdone), and a sex addict friend who can't resist making juvenile ginger motions to simulate sex…

What's refreshing is that, for the most part, the characters are all low-status, no newsreaders, no motivational speakers, no policemen or detectives; Jigsaw’s collectively warm and casual style wouldn’t suit pompousness or self-importance.

There’s limited off-the-ball spontaneity, but when it does come –for example in response to three of the front row leaving for the loo – it is all the more impactful for its authenticity.

It’s rare to see performers have so much fun without enforced corpsing, and the simplicity of the ideas must make them fun to perform rather than dreading some very clever-clever set piece that has to be delivered off pat every night.

Perhaps the most complicated set piece is where Craine and Luurtsema have to explain why Antopolski’s pet mouse has died. The chain of events proves great fun and it must make it a joy to deliver each night, without it ever sounding convoluted.

Easy, breezy and sometimes quite cheesy, Jigsaw are a refreshing Fringe stop among shouty sketch and theme-strangled stand up.

Review date: 14 Aug 2012
Reviewed by: Julian Hall
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

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