It’s only when you look back at your childhood books and films that you realise how many of them are ripe for satire. The two actresses behind the Bravery of Miss Anne obviously think so as well, as they have based their entire performance around sending up some of the more popular genres. Westerns, detective fiction and gothic horror are all parodied very effectively in a space where you could hardly stretch your arms without hitting a member of the audience. What’s more, it was done with enough wit and verve to keep everything moving nicely.
The stories are brief and charming, taking the traditional stereotypes and subverting them in a way that constantly drew laughs from the audience. So Billy the Kid turns into Billy the Emotionally Mature Adult. “Here comes the main villain Geoffrey”, we are told. “We know he’s the villain because I’m playing the piano in a minor key and it’s British”. A variety of facial expressions and rapid character changes are also well done and generate a good giggle quotient, and the variety of accents, from Posh Yorkshire to Comedy French, also help jolly along the jokes.
While much of the humour is knowing and self-referential, it never becomes too knowing and it’s all held together by some jaunty keyboard playing and some impromptu entertainment during scene changes. So while one character frantically gathers up all the props for the forthcoming sketch, we hear renditions of Chopin’s Minute Waltz and ‘I am the very image of a modern Major-General’. If at times, some jokes drag on a little too long and some fall a little flat, it doesn’t matter – another one will come along soon enough. It is definitely one of the highlights of the Free Fringe.