Gein’s Family Giftshop is a collection of short stories performed in rapid succession by James, Ed and Cath. The trio portray multiple characters in various scenarios, most of which involve some form of misfortune or misadventure. Billed as ‘macabre sketch comedy’, I was expecting something a little darker and more gruesome, but in that sense I left feeling a little shortchanged. However, death and tragedy are common themes and while there are one or two horrifying parts to the show, that’s as macabre as it gets.
Each vignette requires little to no setting up and minimal props – the audience doesn’t struggle to keep up but it does feel rather ‘blink and you’ll miss it’. The use of black humour is an appropriate choice for the kind of show it is, however overall the material is far from polished and definitely requires more fine tuning.
The sketches that worked were those with great use of wordplay or a clever, unexpected twist at the end – these were the ones that garnered the most laughs. Those that fell a little flat were just a little too crass; off-colour humour does work but in this instance it felt like being crude just for the sake of it.
While the content struggled, the performers did manage to keep things entertaining enough. They are adept actors who definitely have a natural flair for comedic theatre. I also liked how they broke the fourth wall by addressing the audience – a nice touch that could have definitely been explored further.
This revue is a mixed bag with some comical parts to tickle your funny bone, but unfortunately there are more misses than hits. The show is quite niche, considering the subject matter, but if you do have forty minutes to spare between shows and fancied a cold beer, this could be an interesting detour.