Kate Stokes and Claudia Summers have their finger on the pulse with this delightful double bill of comedy plays, interspersed with a few shorter sketches. A modern re-working of the ancient myths of Narcissus and Echo, they skewer our contemporary obsession with celebrity and consumerism. Stokes’ and Summers’ characters range from a suburban wife who, ignored by her monosyllabic husband Colin, becomes obsessed with "the Facebook", to a therapy patient who has a unique form of Tourette’s Syndrome which compels her to burst into sales pitches for everything from sofas to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wedding merchandise throughout her treatment ("Stop selling me things, start telling me things!" orders her therapist). With just a few props and an abundance of comedy talent, Stokes and Summers bring all these characters vividly to life.
Stokes and Summers are highly talented relative newcomers to the world of comedy
The most successful sketch is the one of the show's title, A Really Really Big Modern Telly. Summers plays Echo who is working on the photo desk at "Foots" when the sketch opens. As chuffed as she is to be working at a place where where you can get a photo of your granny printed on a mouse mat or mug (she already has nine mugs with her own face plastered over them), Echo has bigger dreams. Desperate to be on TV, she is unable to resist Stokes’ slimy salesman’s pitch for a brand new form of entertainment: the Really Really Big Modern Telly where the spectator becomes the spectacle, the consumer the consumed. In a clever blending of live theatre and video projection, Echo finds herself sucked into the world of television where she is doomed to an eternity of presenting The One Show alongside the deadly dull Matt Baker, receiving marriage proposals from flopped-haired Matthew in Downton Abbey, and shaking her booty in Beyonce’s video for I’m a Single Lady. The sketch is a hilarious and incisive send-up of reality TV where anyone can be a star, no matter how little talent or charisma they possess.
I was less convinced by the other play, A Really Really Big Modern Myth. In this re-working of the myth of Narcissus, Stokes plays Walter, a vain fitness instructor who leads Duran Duran themed aerobics classes at a wellbeing retreat, and falls in love with his own reflection in the centre’s swimming pool. Compared to A Really Really Big Modern Telly, the play took a while to get up and running and the jokes felt more laboured. Nonetheless, I enjoyed Summers’ performance as tongue-tied Audrey who has been brought up as a potted plant and is having to take "Communication through Speech" classes so she can express her undying love for Walter.
Stokes and Summers are highly talented relative newcomers to the world of comedy (Summers’s particularly expressive face is perfect for slapstick) with important things to say about our selfie obsessed world. Definitely ones to watch…