Gein's Family Giftshop: Volume 1 | Review by Steve Bennett
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Gein's Family Giftshop: Volume 1

Note: This review is from 2014

Review by Steve Bennett

Intriguing new sketch trio Gein’s Family Giftshop might just be their own best critics. ‘It’s just jizz and bumholes,’ says Kath Hughes, dismissively, of their work.

Not that the comic power of jizz and bumholes should be underestimated, of course, and their gloriously filthy and juvenile punchlines hit the mark, even if there’s inevitably a diminishing return each time they go below the belt. But at their best they surprise with a ‘did that really just happen?’ moment of grossness. Preposterously crude is the tone of this Manchester-based group.

While gags stick closely to bodily functions, they are inventive in how they get there, versatile in their presentation and style. They make much of the fact they have minimal props, no costumes and no blackouts. Instead sketches flow seamlessly into each other and the demarkations between character and performer are blurred, creating a distinctive feel that so many sketch troupes find elusive.

There’s also a constant meta-commentary on how things are going, the most knowing comments have Hughes bemoaning her her lack of stage time and decent lines compared to her male colleagues, Edward Easton and James Meehan, who tend to bully her, ironically of course.

But she certainly pulls her weight, as all three have formidable acting chops, going from the sublime to the ridiculous and demonstrating a gift for physical as well as verbal comedy in their big, pugnacious and energetic performances. The three are pretty brutal with each other, adding violence both physical and psychological to their toilet humour in a messy melting pot of humanity’s baser instincts.

Their shorter sketches tend to work better than the longer ones, which can struggle to sustain a premise a quick pull-back-and-reveal needn’t concern itself with. But even here they frequently take unexpected turns with a comic punch.

Gein’s have the depraved sensibilities, if not quite the same showmanship, of Late Night Gimp Fight, whose Fringe shoes they might be trying on for size.

Review date: 12 Aug 2014
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

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