Live at The Electric promised some of the best sketch comedy of the Fringe hosted by the extremely likable and endearing Russell Kane. It’s a shame that such a promising show ended up being executed so poorly. Beginning with a massive delay that Kane later apologised for onstage, the show then suffered technical problems in both lighting and sound as it rushed towards the end as fast as possible. It seemed that after the delay no one in charge could decide if the show should be cut short or run over and the result was that Russell Kane’s appearances between the acts became shorter and shorter, until by the end he was simply repeating his encouragement of applause. This was unfortunate as Kane’s opening patter, in which he somewhat ironically riffed on his sound and tech problems at Assembly, was particularly brilliant and had the audience in stitches.
The sketch groups were of a high calibre throughout, though some went down better than others with a generally genial audience. Jigsaw was a perfect opening choice, their short punchy sketches providing a fast flow of laughs. The one repeated scenario of a seventeen-year-old being visited by holiday mascots suffered from the short slot they had at their disposal - with longer between the two instances it would be more effective. However, all of their sketches were hilarious and well chosen, perfectly displaying their talent. Totally Tom then performed a couple of longer sketches, frequently relying on silence moments and music rather than dialogue to earn their laughs. By the end of their set their interpretive dance had the audience gasping for breath.
Lady Garden received less of a reaction from the audience overall, a couple of their less obvious sketches like one parodying the idea of ‘lads on tour’ stretching on for longer than necessary after the point had been made. Moreover a few of their more surreal touches left the audience nonplussed. They’re clearly funny, but perhaps thrive better when they create their own atmosphere, rather than in a showcase. Finally, WitTank closed out the evening, unfortunately whittled down to two by illness. This rather obviously impacted on the quality of the sketches, as two-handers seemed not to be a speciality and they relied heavily on a repeated scenario. However, they showed some flair with audience interaction and managed to keep up consistent laughs throughout their set.
The technical mistakes, frequent corpsing and slight air of panic about the whole show certainly put the live into Live at the Electric. Unfortunately, it short-circuited.