Review: The Sketch Factor – Thespianage @ Old Joint Stock Theatre

June and July often offer a lot to theatre-goers with many small theatre companies and comedians performing their Edinburgh show on shorter tours of one night stands, before taking them across the border, where the prize is either glory or oblivion.

Thespianage is one such group, and the three man one woman team pack a lot into their hour long slot. Paddy Pritchard, Rory Cooke, Josh Fenby Taylor and Georgina well all played a part in the writing and staging of the productions, and all are talented performers with an eye for the absurd, or transplanting modern life into older formats.

In one scene we have Paddy Pritchard’s Romeo proferring his undying adoration to Georgina Well’s Juliet, who is ruing the amount she has had to drink, and playing with her mobile phone. In another scene we have a couple with a deep dark secret, they are both serial killers, while in a repeating character is seen throughout the show, until a final scene shows he has fallen on hard times.

As good as these sketches are, the strongest sketches are the ones where the group successfully deconstructs existing tropes. Detective Inspector Platypus starts as a gritty police procedural, until a commissioning editor gets his hands on it, and turns it into an educational show, a sit-com, or after taking suggestions from the audience, a Game of Thrones pastiche. Super-heroes were carefully deconstructed in Doctor Ambiguous, whilst the Knights of the Round Table became stereotypes that you would find in a particularly unpleasant reality show.

Although not every sketch worked in the show, there was always something new coming along, and the pace of the show never flagged. Last year the show won the group a series of five star reviews at Edinburgh, and there is no reason why this show should not repeat the same success for the group.

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