Faces

Tue 9th – Sat 13th October 2012

reviews

Tom Flynn

at 20:27 on 13th Oct 2012

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'Faces' is a fast sketch show that had most of the audience laughing in every scene. Occasionally musical - the opening song was a particular highlight - occasionally punning, but mostly mixing surrealism and good quality wit. Almost everything about the show was basic: the scenes were uncomplicated, and tended not to introduce new characters, the cast all wore white for almost every scene, only changing when absolutely necessary, and props were used minimally, but well. It came across as something not entirely confident that it was actually all that good. "Thanks for coming to our show." they said at the top, "-we hope that it's funny" seemed to be the implication. A little worrying at the time, but in actual fact this humility did no harm at all and even added to the charm of the performance.

The cast of eight rotated around sketches, with most generally featuring 2 or 3 of the actors, who were focused and obviously familiar enough with their material that on the one occasion that it looked like a long dialogue might have got mixed up, the situation was recovered without more than a minute hint that something had gone wrong. The show moved quickly, with most of the sketches around 2 minutes in length, but some even shorter, and a couple of particularly brave one-line gags, which could easily have fallen flat but were actually sufficiently surreal that the audience were taken unaware and loved them. The longer sketches were much more of a mixed bag than the faster 'In - joke - out' style sketches, which were, if memory serves, all at least a little funny and for the most part pretty good. These made up a lot of the show and were both funny and fast. The writing only really looked under pressure to keep laughs coming regularly and frequently in the long scenes, occasionally leading to awkwardly fast exchanges or unnaturally escalating arguments, but at other times, (for example, in the scene involving a malfunctioning android), the main joke of the scene just ran and ran, brilliantly, and the sketch could (although probably shouldn't) have been twice as long as it was. The actors, and perhaps this is the inevitable result of having the writers be the actors, didn't mitigate the odd bit of writing that wasn't funny, but hit exactly the right pace and rhythm when the script was good. The one exception to this rule was a longish monologue, which built to a simple gag which I think was probably over-worked, but which was delivered by the actress with such passion and clever reaction to the audience's laughter that it came off excellently.

The flyer for Faces describes the cast as 'loveable', and I think that's true: the delivery was cheerful, none of the jokes were divisive or made me want to wince or groan, and the show felt humble, uncomplicated, and, frankly, was charming.

It's almost surprising, and very pleasing to see such a simple and basically nice comedy being executed well for the most part, and in some places excellently.

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