In Cahoots | Review by Steve Bennett
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In Cahoots

Note: This review is from 2013

Review by Steve Bennett

First impressions of sketch duo In Cahoots are not too encouraging. They overact, exude a luvvie vibe (even saying ‘...and scene’ at the end of an early skit) and deploy cliched techniques for their laughs, such as undermining a mime to reveal that, say, he wasn’t driving a car at all. It feels like bad improv... and sure enough both Luke Manning and Paul Raymond are in troupe called Shoot From The Hip! Note the obligatory exclamation mark to labour the point of how fun they are.

Yet a few minutes in and they noticeably relax; their banter becomes looser and they start a persistent battery of ad-libs in an attempt to make each other corpse. And as their playful real selves emerge to play the sketches for the silly nonsense they are, the fun spreads freely through the audience.

They remain guilty of using tried-and-tested formulae from acts that have preceded them, owing more than a nod to the Fast Show or Little Britain, especially in a white character (Manning) who struggles to understand an Asian one (Raymond) speaking perfect English.

That said, they tease jokes out of the white-brown dynamic skilfully but liberally – sensibly deciding it’s not something they would want to build a whole show around. And Raymond is just as likely to play a woman or a child as he is to stick to type.

Despite the initial misgivings, the performances mostly zing. Manning’s depiction of a father acting like a sulky disobedient child is a fine moment; and while his incomprehensible Scottish tourist guide might be one of those familiar tropes, he plays it joyfully, backed with fine straightman work from Raymond. Although it’s a bit of a scheduling snafu to follow this with another zany scene of heavily accented gobbledegook, even if the geography is different.

A spirit of Knockabout high jinks pervades the show, glossing over weak points in sketches, which in less zealous hands would falter under their flaws. Yet some scenes shine in the writing, too, just not all of them.

Overall, it’s a confident but flawed debut. The pair clearly have talent and zest, and while their comedy gushes out like an untethered hosepipe, invigorating but unfocussed, it wouldn’t be beyond them to develop from such promising beginnings, possibly with a little external help with writing or editing.

Review date: 2 Aug 2013
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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