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Teakshow's Twisted Sketches
Published on Saturday, 16 July 2011

4 stars

Underground Venues - Pauper's Pit
15-16 Jul, 10:45pm-11:30pm
Reviewed by Richard Stamp

She's a half-crazed live-wire, with a shock of long red curls; he's urbane and rubber-faced, switching accent and persona with practised ease. Together they're the sketch group Teakshow, and their Edinburgh preview is a real highlight to round off a night at the Fringe.

Teakshow have a little more of life behind them than the student groups who often peddle sketch-show wares - and that experience shows through in both the quality of their performances, and the maturity of their material. There's a lot of saucy humour, as befits a late-night show, but it's all based round well-drawn characters instead of crude shock. If there's one big criticism, it's that rather too many of the sketches relied on an unexpected character blurting out the word "sex" - not because I don't enjoy a bit of playground humour, but because that particular joke is far funnier if you refrain from doing it too often.

Most of the recurring themes worked well, though, and there's one particular pair of characters I was always happy to welcome back to the stage. Toting cigarette holders and an intensely longing stare, the two repressed lovers of yesteryear made a fine running gag out of the things they wished the morals of the time would allow them to say. Their concluding tour-de-force - a breathtakingly inappropriate rendition of Je T'Aime, Moi Non Plus in cut-glass English accents - would, even on its own, be worth staying up past bedtime for.

Very occasionally, things felt a little dated (one of the sketches is even played in with the theme to All Creatures Great And Small) and the over-arching "twisted" psychological theme grew tenuous at times. There are more than enough clever ideas to fill the hour, though: favourites included the vampires' blood-tasting, the portal to Hell tucked in the back of a Nissan Micra and, perhaps darkest of all, the children's TV show which isn't quite what it first seems.

Not every sketch ends with a laugh-aloud punchline, and it's a mark of confidence in their material that they trust us still to have a good time. And if you'll forgive me a little ranting, it's nice to finally find a comedy act on its way to Edinburgh which has turned up in Buxton with a polished, finished show.  It wasn't the hardest I'd laughed at the Fringe, but it may just have been the longest; for an hour of reliable humour that entertains from beginning to end, it's worth a peek at the Teakshow.

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