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Home arrow Archive: Earlier Fringes arrow Archive: Buxton 2011
Alice! Your Thyme Is Up
Published on Sunday, 10 July 2011

3 stars

Underground Venues - Barrel Room
9-10, 12 Jul, 10:00pm-10:45pm
Reviewed by Alice de Cent

With rapid-fire puns and literary references aplenty, Alice! Your Thyme is Up takes the audience on a surreal journey with Victorian sisters Sophia and Helena – as they travel through time and a series of off-the-wall sketches, loosely linked by a quest to find their missing sister.

Sophie Brooke and Helen Terry gave solid, engaging performances from the off, and their slightly creepy Victorian counterparts were both cute and startling throughout their whirlwind journey. They’re an entertaining pair, with good comic delivery, and the unashamed juxtaposition of witty poetry, TV references, and sheer silliness is something to be admired. However varied the audience’s taste, there truly must be something for everyone here.

At times, though, I felt the net was cast a little too wide. Certain shifts seemed jarring, and there were some weak moments in the linking sections between sketches. There were a few cases, too, of overlong sketches outstaying their welcome; it would be better to leave us wanting more than feeling we have the measure of a gag before it’s done.

My fellow audience members were quiet for the most part, maybe through a combination of not wanting to miss any of the intricate twists in the dialogue, mixed with moments of just not getting it. This is a show that you just have to go with: drag your feet on this bizarre ride, and you’re certain to end up more confused than amused. But if you’re able to follow willingly wherever it takes you, you’ll be rewarded with the odd comic gem.

Much of the performance was executed with precision, so I could have done without the costume changes, which required extended voiceover sections to cover the frantic activity at the side of the stage. And though this pair can get away with a great deal, I felt they hadn’t quite earned the self-referential “we have no idea where we’re going” line, even if it was delivered in the style of a TV physicist.

All in all, this is a show that achieves varying levels of success. There are some laugh-out-loud highs, but other portions could do with a trim or – in the case of the linking narrative – a little tightening up. That said though, Brooke and Terry are always secure and easy to watch, so with a little tweaking they could have something truly impressive on their hands.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Buxton 2011.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.