By Jasper Price, Third Year Theatre
A witty, fast paced and hilariously relatable sketch show, one that’s tailored for the spooky season. Expect ridiculous plotlines, puppetry and general pandemonium in this laugh out loud Halloween hoot.
This is the first in-house production from The Room Above, which, as the name suggests, is one of the most intimate venues in Bristol. Knowing that this was indeed a sketch show and so might contain audience interaction of some kind, one might be inclined to sit as far back as possible. I however am a reviewer and so naturally took to the front row of the small, fifty-seat venue.
The cast bring us a staggering 36 sketches, squeezing every joke in with frantic enthusiasm. The show is incredibly well paced, with each scene the perfect length for what it is trying to do. I loved the reoccurring jokes, like the Paranormal Activity bit, where a (mostly) hidden ghost would haunt the frustrated dad, played by Alex Stevens. This scene became more hilarious and convoluted as it was reprised.
I can’t say I was all that terrified for a ‘horrors’ show. The scariest part for me was the troupe busting into Madonna’s ‘Like a Prayer’, in a sketch about repressed choral singers. It was at that point that I thought of leaving, for fear of a reprise later in the show!
The piece also dealt with some social and world issues, all under the guise of the ‘horror’ aesthetic. From the recent petrol crisis, to Zoom disasters and road blocking protests, all presented in the most absurd way possible. Although it felt like the Halloween ideas were sometimes just lumped onto what would be a perfectly good sketch, it just makes the comedy even more enjoyable.
The best humour came from the anti-sketches, the meta subplot about the sketch troupe themselves. Harry Allmark’s diva-Dracula, who demands their big finale to the show, or the increasingly frustrated Liv, who just wants to sing a song but is bullied by their cast-mates. Indeed, the musical moments did not come frequently enough! However, a peculiar song about identifying the deceased and a X-Factor-esque cover of a very popular Halloween song had the laughs coming thick and fast.
Of course, some jokes didn’t hit as well as others. This is the beauty of a sketch show, if you find yourself not entertained, you only have to wait two minutes or so before being plunged into another zany plot. The cast approach everything they do with a great level of self-awareness and irony. One sketch in particular entitled Casper Schmichel, who’s name I’m guessing was chosen before the piece was written. Both cast and audience delighted in the silliness of this one, with Alex walking off stage and shouting ‘that was f*****g ridiculous.’
This was a put-together show, with a very well put-together cast. The melding of different styles of comedy and satire had me chuckling countless times. It’s a great return to live performance from The Room Above and I’m excited to see what they will come up with next.
*Featured Image: The Room Above Theatre *
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