Within a basement room of the Hanover Suite (Venue 119) is perhaps the best musical sketch comedy you will find this Fringe. As an audience member it can be hard to keep your hopes up when you are directed through a rabbit warren of rooms in order to reach a space. This is the nature of the Fringe – sometimes the best work isn’t in a theatre. Sometimes it’s in a small room behind a black curtain.
Move over Morecombe and Wise – these ladies have thrown down a new gauntlet in musical sketch comedy
The Dots are a professionally trained trio of singers, comprised of Helen Colby, Nerine Skinner, and Macey Cherrett. They introduce themselves with a sharp and precise musical routine packed with gags and particular reference to the Hanover Suite’s low ceiling. The roles they assume are well defined and lay the foundations for much of the sketch group’s barrage of jokes: Colby is the matriarch-cum-MC of the group, Skinner the gutsy (but hopelessly unprepared) accomplice, and Cherrett... the Soprano. In transitions between musical numbers we learn what happened to the group’s former Sopranos. The Dots have a narrative, and the former Sopranos are its dark forensic history.
The sketches in The Dots are exquisitely original. Musical sketch shows can sometimes wheel out tropes audiences have seen before, or revolve around crowd-pleasers. But The Dots carry the audience with them into something new. Within each of these sketches is something dangerously and form-changingly clever. To explain the premise of the sketches in this review would of course spoil their delivery, but rest assured that there are so many layers of comedy within each routine that they should be categorised as a form of lasagne.
The dedication to craft, comedy, and farce is meticulous. What is clear from this performance is just how much attention to detail has been poured into this riotous hour of farce. Farce and sketch comedy are not ‘easy’ entertainment formats to get right. A great farce requires meticulous attention to detail and rigorous blocking. It is a perfect mixture of timing, ensemble, and reading the audience in the room.
This is precisely the case with The Dots. Colby, Skinner, and Cherrett have forged something exquisitely entertaining, within which is total dedication to entertaining their audience. Their professionalism provides molecularly precise musical humour – but it is all delivered with a kind of self-deprecating, immediately approachable aplomb. Their comedy is warm, the audience are involved, and no one is the butt of any jokes.
The Dots are playing in the Hanover Suite until 25th August, and do not perform Monday – Wednesday. Great things will certainly come from this performance act, and there was a palpable feeling in the Hanover Suite that "I was there before they became famous". Move over Morecombe and Wise – these ladies have thrown down a new gauntlet in musical sketch comedy. For those exploring the comedy options at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, this is not one to miss.