Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy review: Minor Delays , reviewed by The Scotsman’s Jay Richardson
Outstanding sketch comedy this, from Abi Tedder, Harry Michell and Joe Barnes, a tight trio whose disciplined, stripped- back approach to the form delivers a robust framework for dazzling writing and finely tuned performances.
With zero props beyond their chairs, they consistently face forward, never each other, even when engaged in dialogue. As a device it’s surprisingly effective, focusing attention on the lines and their nuanced facial drama, a macabre marionette skit gifted greater physical impact by their lack of conventional interaction.
Indeed, it’s so smooth, scene changes acknowledged with a brief tap of a hotel reception bell, it’s only on leaving that you realise it also facilitates them having their set-list stuck to the floor. To flag this is not to criticise, as it reminds you just how many sketches they’ve packed into the hour and the peak quality control they sustain. If a scene lacks a killer punchline, it’s invariably because it’s one of their few recurring set-pieces, absolutely worth the wait and build-up of tension.
A standout of these is Michell’s precociously pretentious seven-year-old, latterly eliciting roaring laughs from his initial smug simper alone. Yet while some are zippy, and rely on a sharp reveal or oblique twist, others are more gradual build-ups of character quirks. Barnes’s Rotheram tour guide recalls Flight of the Conchords’ Bus Driver song in his unwitting testimony, but is absolutely their own bleak creation. Unusually for a young sketch outfit, you get little sense of the personalities behind the performances, allowing each member to switch unencumbered between victim and aggressor, eccentric or straight foil, springing surprises from all directions. Moreover, that they can elicit ripe comedy from a globally infamous natural disaster, and then only escalate the darkness for bigger laughs, shows wonderfully poised assurance and ambition. See them now before that potential’s fully realised.
Gilded Balloon (Venue 14), run ended
Published in The Scotsman on 29 August 2015
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