In an attempt to find the ultimate remedy for anxiety, Making Faces comedy sketch group move at fast pace, exploring themes relative to their subject through song, poetry, awkwardness and physical comedy. The show Calm and Collected has an interesting structure to it. Lizzie Kevan, Ed Mayhew and Dan Curtis ensure that throughout all of their sketches they are always recognised as being themselves and not the characters they are portraying. They do this by interrupting each other, analysing their own performances in real time and sometimes by commenting on the mistakes they make. Whether these mistakes are made on purpose or not is unknown. In my opinion, this technique weakens their performance and suggests to their audience that they are not as well rehearsed as they should be.
Calm and Collected offer a whole host of interesting and hilarious characters, with Dan Curtis standing out for his physical performances. Curtis’ first sketch involves him playing the problem child of a family who, in searching for the ultimate expression of individuality, dons a biohazard suit, roller skates and a cardboard box mask without eyeholes. His movement and timing make this character a fan favourite of the audience.
Mayhew’s musicianship and failed poetry offer interludes to the pace of the show and Lizzie Kevan acts out very self-contained scenes, more reliant upon poignant, subtle writing for their effect. A criticism of the troop is that they all seem quite static in the characterisations and individually do not differentiate their performances. Curtis, though great at bounding around the stage, gave exactly the same physical, loud performance in each of his scenes, which became somewhat boring. There was a limitation of depth in each of the troupe’s characters.
Though some sketches were hit and miss, others were excellently written, driving absurdity to the core of their search for a cure to anxiety. A choral performance from the three performers asking their audience to ‘put all your troubles in your bag, then they’ll be in a bag’ was delightfully nonsensical and encapsulates Making Faces’ approach to sketch comedy.
‘I want to tell you what the solution to anxiety and transcending status is’ Kevan summarises at the end of the show. If you are keen to find out the answer, or are looking for light entertainment of an afternoon, you should join Making Faces in their discovery of stress relief. If you don’t have time, you may wish to begin your own personal search in Waitrose.