Big Brass

Thu 31st July – Mon 25th August 2014

reviews

Georgina Wilson

at 00:26 on 18th Aug 2014

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You may have heard of Big Brass somewhere before – they were that comedy group that recently had that really embarrassing fail of a show at the London Apollo – you know? The one with the bow tie disaster? I spent ten minutes of the show trying to work out whether or not this was actually true but it turns out they were joking. Big Brass do comedy, after all.

The recurring theme of the disastrous show that happened a few weeks previously is one of the many motifs that helps to lock this very cohesive show together. Each cast member takes it in turns to worry about “that time at the Apollo”; they would comfort each other cheerily “it wasn’t that bad, Barney… they would never have known, Nick”. Evidently all this suspense is supposed to build our anticipation for this disastrous sketch, which is finally revealed to us in flash-back form at the end. Inevitably, it is not one of the funniest sketches of the show.

Another recurring theme in the show involves citrus fruit, power ballads and staring into the mid distance. It’s kind of hard to explain. Luckily, it’s also kind of funny.

The three-strong cast are all clearly very talented performers: David Meredith is a familiar face to anyone who has also seen Oxford group No Strings, and whilst he excels on the clarinet, piano and saxophone, he is not the sole musician of the group.

The sketches are well-merged, varied, and acted with a lot of control and none of the usual “teetering close to the edge of panic” feeling manifest in so many amateur comedy productions. Big Brass are witty rather than hilarious; the sketches raise a wry chuckle rather than any laugh-out-loud guffaws. That said, the group have good chemistry as well as the potential to think up original ideas for sketches.

Much of their comedy value pivots on the repetitiveness of jokes which do not bring tears of laughter to the audience’s eyes the first time. These sketches require guts, and Brass Band certainly have guts, along with intelligence and great physical acting skills. The evening is a performance rather than purely a word-based stand-up, and overall it’s a good one.

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Emily Brearley-Bayliss

at 00:28 on 18th Aug 2014

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Big Brass provided a night that was full of laughter and entertainment. With a small cast of talented individuals, it combined slick sketch comedy with assured audience interaction and seamlessly incorporated the performers’ various musical talents.

The three boys’ confident delivery immediately put the audience at ease, and the bold opening, which involved blasting show tunes and a lot of running around in a hilarious and flashy montage, instantly created energy that permeated the whole room. The beginning of the show was characterised by a sense of fun, and kicked off with sketches that showed off David Meredith’s ability to perform a range of funny, if slightly perverse accents.

Meredith, Nick Davies and Barney Iley all created very likeable on- stage personas, and their impeccable comic timing was a joy to watch. The cleverness of the script came from the fact that it allowed the performers’ acting ability to come across; it was not over-written, and if anything just showed how funny the simplest of sketches can be if they are performed well – they are just funny people.

Self-mockery was a big theme in this production, and the team joked about their own comic ability as well as the concept of sketch and improv comedy itself. The mixture of ridiculous, pineapple related humour and an on-going joke about their own failure made for a show that was both funny and adorable. Music was woven into the script in a way that showcased the cast's musical talents, but in a way that fitted with the tone of the show and wasn’t overdone.

As is usually a pitfall of sketch comedy, there were a few that were not as great as the rest of them. Towards the end, the show lost a bit of its energy, and although the slow-mo representation of their failed Apollo show was well acted, leaving on a more upbeat note would have been nice. The costumes were occasionally over the top, but somehow didn’t impair the boys’ comedic acting skill.

This was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, which provided laugh after laugh, and one silly situation after the other. The range of sketch comedy at the Fringe is varied, and a lot of it is very good, but I would certainly recommend paying Big Brass a visit.

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