The Canon: A Literary Sketch Show

Anyone might be forgiven for apprehension about a literary sketch show. Few things are quite so bad as a bad pun; surely an invitation to obscure allusion can only make things worse? But audiences need not worry. The Canon, despite its many puns on books’ titles, keeps near-miraculously to healthy comedic territory.

It’s an impressively professional show

Part of the writers’ brilliance lies in physicalising wordplay. A supervision sketch built almost entirely out of literalised food metaphors elicited some of the loudest laughs of the performance I saw; Justin Blanchard, the segment’s nutty teacher, is indubitably The Canon’s resident comical genius. Even his “student” was moved to laughter once or twice by his infectious, hyper-energetic mania.

What about the play’s accessibility - would its esoteric references appeal only to English students? This is more troubling, and indeed, it seems to me that a reference to Barthes’s Death of the Author misses its target, while a metafictional Harry Potter sketch is taken a little too far. But perhaps the most telling episode is an arrestingly clever take on what may be the most famous sketch ever, Monty Python’s Parrot Sketch.This noir re-imagining will have its audience in stitches regardless of their familiarity with its source.

The same is true of the second supervision segment, surely a tip of the cap to Fry & Laurie’s drama teacher sketch. And The Canon’s best skit - David Matthews (book) with Georgia Wagstaff (student) on reading as erotic experience - makes no allusion at all, depending instead on those mainstays of sketch comedy: absurdity, surprise, conviction and wit.

'They are everywhere in evidence in The Canon. It’s an impressively professional show — well worth an hour of your time.

Reviews by Aron Penczu

C venues - C nova

Bazaar and Rummage

★★★
Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters

Shaggers

★★
Heroes @ Bob & Miss Behave's Bookshop

IndieRound (Fool Members Club) with Bob Slayer & Tim Fitzhigham

★★★
theSpace @ Symposium Hall

The Unholy Trinity

C venues - C too

Story Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing

★★★★
theSpace @ Jury's Inn

The Sorrows of Young Werther

★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Little did we know that our show would attract such big-name attention. Literary heavyweight Jane Austen has confirmed her involvement and George Orwell may have been spotted outside the theatre. Speculation reached new heights with talk of William Shakespeare, the man himself, making an appearance. We can't comment. If you think it was therefore presumptuous for us to put his face on the poster, you're probably right. Irreverent new sketch show featuring an all-star cast of literary favourites, from Homer to Stephanie Meyers. 'Full of wit, charm and originality' (CambridgeTheatreReview.com).