Quartet, Mixed Doubles, have brought a comedy sketch show to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, framed with four peculiar characters from the peaceful UKIP-voting Middle England village of Little Comberton, who are attempting to raise money within a fundraiser for a new village pavilion. These include town GP and amateur thespian (Paul Aitchison), perverse librarian (Rose Robinson), dimwitted and well-meaning gentry (Will Close) and massage parlour owner (Megan Smith). In between this inventive and topical frame narrative, the group perform sketches of their own devising, occasionally interrupted by parish notices or contributions to the town soap box, the ‘Big Talk Stand’.
Very safe brand of comedy.
The sketches are a real amalgamation of the very funny and clever, and the underwhelming. Some of the sketches are deliberately bad, reflecting the frame characters’ attempts at writing comedy sketches; others are just simply accidentally bad, with poor punch lines and overuse of awkward and dramatic pauses. Certain gags are overdone, such as the recurring Jools Holland gag, which appears three times throughout the show. Some of their sketches are fairly inventive and unique: the magician sketch is particularly impressive, and some of their visual gags were rather amusing. The parent-friendly song at the end of the set made for a really strong ending to an overall strong show, which had many very funny moments. Sadly, for every extremely funny sketch, there was one that just failed to land.
As a group, Mixed Doubles work very well together. Their comedy is fairly inoffensive and conservative, being neither particularly new or edgy. Very safe brand of comedy. For a safe show that will get a few very solid laughs from the audience, Mixed Doubles is an incredibly safe bet. The frame narrative helps connect the sketches in a way that a lot of sketch shows fail to do, so that there is no wasted time in between. A bit more risk-taking would not go amiss however, and it would be interesting to see what this extremely promising and amiable the group come up with in the future.