Staple/face are a young sketch group, something they don’t shy away from. It is the source of their biggest strengths but also their biggest weaknesses. They are energetic and endearing with a handful of fantastic ideas. But on occasion they also seem to lack discipline and veer into adolescent navel-gazing.
A film noir monologue delivered by a seven and a half year old boy soon becomes annoyingly goo-goo eyed; the overall effect of it is akin to being mauled to raggedy ribbons by a puppy.
Their strongest sketches are the ones that combine serious subject matter with anarchic silliness. They have wide appeal while seeming fresh. There’s a police sketch that’s delightfully close to the bone, putting a little bite into a show that often seems to have teeth made of marshmallows. Also, there’s an exploding George Osborne sketch - complete with bizarre attempts by David Cameron to cover it up - that is extremely funny. It gets just the right mix of the surreal and the grotesque.
However, a lot of the material is aimed at too young an audience. There is a George R.R. Martin sketch that develops into a running gag which is both funny and astute. But for the audience I was with this material seemed to fly over their heads by a couple of decades: few seemed to know who he was. The problem recurred with a laptop and social media sketch that was simply pitched at the wrong age group. With the appropriate audience these sketches would go down well, but they ultimately seem to be the wrong thing at the wrong time.
Staple/face have other sketches however that aren’t just wrong for their audience, but are simply quite bad. They get too cutesy for too long. A film noir monologue delivered by a seven and a half year old boy soon becomes annoyingly goo-goo eyed. The show returns to it several times and the overall effect of it is akin to being mauled to raggedy ribbons by a puppy.
It is also undeniable that at times the boys look like they are having more fun than the audience. The closing sketch - about a nineties children’s show in which protagonists throw Slinkys at each other in a Pokémon-like battle and then proceed dance - might just be the most self-indulgent piece of comedy in Edinburgh this year.
It’s a fast paced, enjoyable hour delivered by a talented troupe, but one which could do with a lot of cutting.