No Strings

Fri 1st – Sun 24th August 2014

reviews

Georgina Wilson

at 08:47 on 10th Aug 2014

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The tongue is a potent weapon, Will. How true. The tongue is a potent weapon of wit, satire, and music in this sketch-show No Strings by the Oxford University group.

The three-men–and-one-woman-strong cast are all outstanding , and deliver witty sketch after witty sketch on a whole host of subjects and observations.

It is rare that I find anything funny that could be taken as offensive, but somehow this group include sketches on Nazis (sorry, German musicals) without leaving a sour taste in my mouth. It’s a kind of German version of Eddie Izzard’s lapse into Frenchiness: “Ich have ein dreame” combined with a fresh take on the well-worn comedy sketch that resorts to mocking accents.

Another clear influence is Tim Minchin: as well as being charmingly friendly, and sporty enough for a bit of light acrobatics, this cast are clearly the annoying bunch at school who are good at everything including music. Georgia Bruce performs an excellent solo satire on the guitar of a female vocalist “whose had a lot of education”, and David Meredith is mocked for his sausage fingers by cast members throughout before revealing himself to be a talented pianist and saxophonist. Barney Fishwick can play the recorder, and is proud of it.

Recurring motifs also hold this whole sketch show together in a way that takes it beyond the realm of standard student comedy and into the land of the semi-professional. Mockery of David’s musical talent is not the only thing to return in various guises throughout the evening. Will “Gok Wan” Hislop is the guy who has been friend-zoned by Georgia, and Georgia frequently insists on hiding the company budget from the other two; probably a wise move given that it transpires she’s bought a lion with their money.

All cast members have physical acting, facial expressions, and comic timing down to a tee. Physical acting is particularly foregrounded in some of the earlier sketches, in which an effective use of voice-over to relay internal thoughts at an awkward diner party forces the actors to rely solely on silent body language to convey their characters. The occasional corpse was a momentary lapse readily passed over by a jovial evening audience. Out of all the comedy at the Fringe, this is certainly a good bet.

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Emily Brearley-Bayliss

at 11:49 on 10th Aug 2014

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This show was incredibly well executed, well written and well performed. If anything, slightly too much so. A sketch comedy from a group that has earned their Fringe notoriety, the audience definitely had high hopes, and were apparently not disappointed. The sketches covered a broad range of topics, and cleverly intertwined fantastical journeys to the centre of the earth with the incredibly every day; the recurring storyline of unrequited love between Will Hislop and Georgia Bruce was a particular highlight.

The incorporation of music into the script made for some very funny moments, and both Georgia and David Meredith should be commended for their outstanding musical ability. The simple irony of Georgia’s ‘Song By A Female Vocalist’ was hilarious and endearing, and David and Will’s duet was consistently amusing, while Barney Fishwick on the recorder… Well, he tried his best.

Everyone who took part in this show was undeniably talented. They brought the script to life, and the script was understated enough to allow the performance to become the main attraction. The comedy was subtle, and not too try-hard, which is a difficult thing to achieve in sketch comedy.

The problem with this show was that it was just too slick. Well rehearsed, to the point where every glance at the audience was scripted, the performance somehow lacked the energy and spontaneity that would have been necessary for it to be side-splittingly funny. Many members of the audience were clearly having a great time, but I just did not find it as hilarious as the actors clearly thought it was. A lot of the jokes that got the biggest laughs seemed to be in-jokes, and I doubt they would have gone down as well with a different audience.

This is an incredibly well executed piece of sketch comedy, which is witty, intelligent and performed with great consideration and talent. Excellent, if a little artificial, comic timing meant that there were no scenes that fell flat, and at points it was incredibly funny. A very willing audience created a great atmosphere, and the whole thing showcased the many talents of the performers. The sheer competence of this show was staggering, and somehow took away from the fun of the whole thing, but it was definitely not an unpleasant way to while away a Saturday night.

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