First Night Review: The Irreverence Crusade

First Night Review: The Irreverence Crusade

first_imgWhile student-written comedy is often a hit-or-miss affair, there is much in Jack Sanderson-Thwaite’s sketch-show which is original and very funny, giving new and bizarre, yet enchantingly simple perspectives on the world. The content of the sketches deals with altered perceptions and irrationality, creating an aberrant world where fairy tales come to life through mediums as far removed as the business of dealers and TV news reporting. The moment the audience thinks they have a handle on the action, that they can find a meaningful link between the sketches, enabling them to keep their feet on the ground, is the moment when personifications of day and night duke it out or the world is viewed from the point of view of a lamp post. It is quite clear that all bets are off.Occasional recurring characters are all that tenuously links together some sketches, and it is truly the lack of rationality present in all which create this convincing world of madness and delirium. One fully believes that even the most bizarre of the sketches viewed could occur whilst walking down the street in this self-proclaimed ‘wondrous realm‘. The difficulty of disentangling oneself from this world is a testament to Sanderson-Thwaite’s success in enticing the audience with the ludicrous goings-on. The energised ensemble cast almost manages to saves the few sketches which run too long or lack pace, and adds to the accomplishment of those which Sanderson-Thwaite’s surreal writing already illuminates. Alexander Craven and Ben Forrest are particularly worthy of mention for their impeccable comic timing – it is the scene consisting of only these two which is perhaps the funniest in the show.James Callender performs brilliantly as Demetrius Skylark, the ‘compare extraordinaire’, our guide through the anarchic and tumultuous world created by Sanderson-Thwaite. Speaking directly to the audience, Skylark’s comments on the characters and this bizarre world provide a surprising tone of downheartedness and uncertainty to the proceedings, as he struggles to express himself in logical terms in a world where no logic exists. The oddball action culminates in chaos around our guide, in a sketch parodying the nature of sketch shows themselves. Making the audience fully aware of the writer’s sophisticated talents, Skylark then delivers a Puck-like summation, addressing the desires and intentions of the characters in a suddenly sobering and not unwelcome turn.The action is outlandish without being absurd, and the charming daftness of the better sketches is what makes them the most memorable. It’s entirely likely that if the play lasted any longer than an hour, the topsy-turvy world would crumble into the preposterous or the laboured, but a jolting halt is put on the proceedings at just the right moment. Sanderson-Thwaite, always in control as both a writer and flawless director, drags the audience, busy peering at this surreal world, away from the brink just as suddenly as they were thrust towards it.Laura Williamslast_img

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