Skip to content


Home arrow Richard Stamp arrow Guest Review: Don't Take The Drugs
Guest Review: Don't Take The Drugs
Published on Wednesday, 17 March 2010

I'm in Edinburgh at the moment, preparing for the much-awaited launch of the Edinburgh International Festival programme - but at this time of year, the real action is down in Brighton.  Our reviewer Fiona Russell took the chance to catch up with some pre-Fringe comedy last weekend, thanks to a first-anniversary show from local group, Casual Violence.

4 starsNo strangers to courting controversy, Casual Violence serve up another provocative helping of sketch-based comedy at the Marlborough Theatre in Brighton. The team’s comedy is dark, but skilfully written, and only a few notes fall off-key in the hour-long show.

A little painful and close to the nerve at points, Casual Violence don’t spare the lighter sensibilities of its audience. One sketch in particular provoked groans across the room by dropping the n-word into a rather bland scene dealing with the origins of the KKK. Be prepared to be offended - but still, most definitely, amused.

The influences of Chris Morris, Simon Munnery and Graham Linehan are all there.  The punchlines often fall with a slight sense of déjà vu, but this is as much a blessing as a curse for the cast - playing as they are to a packed house made up of a largely student crowd, who have come along with a good idea of what to expect.

The timing was spot-on throughout, with a great balance between short tableaux, one-liners and longer sketches to keep the energy up. The constancy and tenor of the show was maintained by a skilful musical spot from Adam Felman, smoothly linking sketches and taking the stage for some of the funniest numbers of the night. His duet with a surviving John Lennon was a highlight, and the zoned-out stonerscape at the end of a party was all the better for his input.

With the group's track record of dark and surreal comedy, Don’t Take Drugs didn’t disappoint, and scored far more hits than misses. The acting was seamless as characters morphed believably from one scene to another, and James Hamilton’s writing shines particularly brightly in some of the longer monologues.  You can’t hold back the laughs, no matter how guilty you feel.

From the sublime to the inane, Casual Violence roundly offended everyone, and played up to a crowd of facebook-happy students with a mix of surreal and topical comedy. A sharp script and an accomplished keyboard soundtrack brought together this polished sketch show; definitely recommended for a macabre, but wickedly entertaining night.

<< Why you should never send...   Belt Up announce Edinburg... >>


This is an archived column from Brighton 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to those we've featured, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.