As the apparent leader of the sketch troupe Intimate Strangers, Matthew Radway adopts an inexplicable and rather poorly imitated German accent and informs the audience, ‘ve are here to mourn the death of comedy… ve have been tasked with bringing it back – minions assemble!’ Cue the arrival of his four colleagues to begin a series of fairly risible, but ultimately rather dull and unimaginative sketches.
The problem didn’t lie with their execution; all four cast members were competent and confident comic actors, with James Thomas shining particularly with superb comic timing and a diverse range of expressions and mannerisms. Rather the sketches themselves lacked wit and originality, inviting frequent snorts and titters from the audience but rarely drawing gales of laughter.
Sketches involving young men imitating old women, a TV chef getting progressively more drunk during her ‘cooking with wine’ segment, or one robber bumping into another one while robbing a bank are all fine and good as sketch material, but offer nothing we haven’t seen before and the group veer down a distinctly tired and trodden path.
The final sketch consists of a play within a play: the cast members create their own version of Amadeus, chronicling the musical odyssey of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. This was certainly one of the most imaginative and bizarre sketches, but even this lacked sharpness, pace and cerebral writing.
In the end, while the performance was by no means unenjoyable and it fact at times pretty entertaining, it lacks the brilliance and originality needed to stand out at the Fringe. Dressing men in drag, mocking Scientology and assuming poor German accents are not in themselves enough anymore.