CTR - Reviews of PICK ME UP - A Sketch Show

PICK ME UP - A Sketch Show

Mon 5th – Sun 18th August 2013

reviews

Suzanne Duffy

at 02:00 on 16th Aug 2013

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It is a rare treat to see a sketch show which is as impressively cohesive as ‘Pick Me Up’. The four ex-Cambridge Footlights were on fine form as they smoothly ran through their seemingly random assortment of sketches until connections began to emerge, weaving the whole performance together.

There are certainly shades of Monty Python about the delight the director, Ahir Shah, takes in making an art out of anti-climax. The expected final joke at the end of a sketch often does not occur and the audience’s knowledge of how the form works makes the absence of a joke even funnier than its presence would have been. This is particularly evident in the scene in which the king demands ever more stringent measures be taken with a man who gropes breasts, which builds and builds but results in nothing at all dramatic.

The show displays a penchant for fake gore, with stabbings, shootings and teeth-pulling all being included. This is most successful when George Fouracres plays a horribly violent wasp in a recurring sketch which has both slapstick humour and absurdity working together to make the audience howl with laughter. Jason Forbes’ hilarious turn as a con artist who re-enacts in slow motion how he deceives his opponent, uses similar techniques to elicit laughs, but every sketch is different. Even though they often segue into each other, it is impossible to predict what is coming next since it is never quite what you expect.

The cleverly-staged scene about Mario and Luigi, which briefly turned the stage into a computer game, shows that the actors are aware of the stage space they inhabit, as well as what is written in the script. This also applies to the speedy and polished scene changes which make the show flow that much more easily.

The range of the cast is demonstrated in the sheer variety of material. They move from mocking early Shakespearean film acting, which might be thought of as standard fare, to enacting a Radio Four drama which becomes deeply irreverent, faces taboos head on, and is very, very funny.

There is no doubt that the stars of ‘Pick Me Up’ belong on stage and the only reason I stopped short of giving them five stars is that the audience laughter, while consistent, was never raucous and unrestrained.

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Victoria Ibbett

at 11:57 on 16th Aug 2013

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What links a train crash, a talking doll, and a newly developed Personalised Android service? ‘Pick Me Up’ is a slick, intelligent sketch show brought to Edinburgh by four graduates of Cambridge’s famous Footlights society. This show is certainly a must-see.

‘Pick Me Up’ features a brilliant repertoire of sketches. The crew have combined comic genius with a fantastic sense of narrative to create a show that impresses, as well as entertains. Each sketch is a gem, but, combined together, they form a narrative astounding in its complexity and creativity. 'Killing The King' is a brilliant series of sketches, as well as a television programme being watching in another sketch. The results of an inventor’s work, who dies in one sketch, crop up again in a later sketch. This quality makes ‘Pick Me Up’ a strong contender for being the wittiest sketch show I’ve seen at the Fringe.

The staging is absolutely impeccable. ‘Pick Me Up’ boasts one of the coolest locations of the Fringe: the Caves under South Bridge. The dank interior stinks of damp, but, aside from that, the arching vaults under the bridge are certainly atmospheric. Add to this a brilliant lighting team, managed with a truly aesthetic sense of the stage space, and we’re onto a winner.

‘Pick Me Up’ also makes great use of a soundscape that pads out the sketches and even locates them in some instances - such as the series of sketches set on a crashing train. The high-octane vocals also contribute to the energy of the show, which needs a little encouragement at times, as the pace does occasionally fall slack.

However, despite these quibbles, the crew of ‘Pick Me Up’ are a stellar group of performers whose knack for characterisation and impeccable delivery are way above average. They are natural and gifted comedians whose professionalism is beyond their years.

I certainly recommend this show as a startlingly intelligent piece of comedy that cannot fail to have you laughing. Certainly a must-see show at the Fringe.

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