Bounding onto the stage with red smeared eyes and billowing white nighties, the three performers of Tarot kick off their show Cautionary Tales bursting with enthusiastic energy and a whole lot of silliness. What follows is a mischievous and sometimes manic production in which sheer commitment to sketch comedy, and on occasion the sheer material of their outfits, make for a consistently raucous hour which is packed with laughs.
A consistently raucous hour which is packed with laughs
The sketch supergroup is comprised of Gein’s Family Giftshop alumni Ed Easton and Kath Hughes, along with Adam Drake of Goose. They are performers with pedigree, and it shows as they bring an easy charm to the stage, displaying well-honed comedic instincts balancing smart material with engaging ad-libs and diversions.
When it comes to the core substance of the show, the members of Tarot are often at their best when they are acting badly very well, and highlights include a bizarre Birdseye commercial audition, and a supernatural tour which is led by an eminently daft Dracula. It makes for a lively selection of sketches which reveal some deft comedic footwork, and although the gig is packed with punchlines which maybe feel more comfortable than cutting edge, they are very funny nonetheless.
What lifts Cautionary Tales above the material is the way the performers play off each other and the audience with an enjoyably effervescent sense of fun. Both the sketches and the interconnecting material are all delivered with impressive gusto, and that hint of unpredictability which keeps them and the audience on their toes.
Although the once overwhelming mainstream popularity of sketch comedy has perhaps waned in recent years, or at least met new challenges from other resurgent forms, Cautionary Tales shows that with the right material and committed performances, it’s fair to say that when it comes to Tarot, sketch comedy is in very safe hands, and although it may soon slip into middle age, maybe it will in fact never die.