Briony Redman: Sketch Artist | Edinburgh Fringe review by Jay Richardson
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Briony Redman: Sketch Artist

Edinburgh Fringe review by Jay Richardson

There's a fictional charity in Briony Redman's show campaigning against the proliferation of strong opinions. Which is a bit unfortunate, as that's not something you could ever accuse Sketch Artist of inspiring. Because this is a slight, early afternoon hour of serviceable but undeniably twee sketch narrative.

Suggesting some lame spoof advertising campaigns for popular products she's created, Redman sets herself up as a jobbing copywriter hoping to move into writing for television after noting the trend for dystopian drama, which she rather narrowly interprets as crime thrillers.

To this end she presents three of her scripts, all murder mysteries – an alien invasion saga climaxing in the final of Britain's Got Talent, where the extra-terrestrial threat seems to have taken the form of dogs; an Agatha Christie pastiche in which lady detective Dynamo Adams tries to solve a country house slaying; and a Scandi-noir thriller in which Bjork is the investigating officer.

Notwithstanding the enjoyably over-the-top portrayal of the Icelandic singer, careering through crime scenes in a colourful poncho with shrieking battiness, Redman evokes plenty of the well-worn cliches of this most over-parodied of genres, but offers little in the way of an original take. Adams, for example, is the epitome of the over-confident private dick, narrating her own story in the present tense, forced to immediately backtrack on something when it becomes apparent she's made a mistake.

There's a nice diversion in the alien story, whereby the invaders initially turn out to be wholly benevolent, facilitating people in the middle-classness of their existence. But with the plotting of the stories paper-thin, to the extent that only the alien tale has a satisfying denouement, the scenarios aren't inherently funny enough to engage. So Redman is required to do an awful lot of crowdwork to make up for the shortfall, quizzing the audience at length on which breed of dog the aliens could be manifesting as and accusing murder suspects across the front rows willy-nilly.

There's some heavy-handed satire about the platform of expression that talent show celebrity affords, another charity raising awareness of women, with clunky irony, and a mention of the Voight-Kampff artificial intelligence test that has a pop at society's need to profile people demographically.

But it's thin stuff, unworthy of too much consideration, only Redman's incessant energy and perky affability keeping you from caring too much. This is a sketchy show in every sense, superficially amusing but only really passing the time.

Review date: 23 Aug 2018
Reviewed by: Jay Richardson
Reviewed at: Pleasance Courtyard

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