From Oxford University come the Butless Chaps, a sketch group brimming with talent and clever ideas. In association with the Oxford Revue which runs throughout the festival, these intelligent comedians are a safe bet when seeking shelter from the Mile one afternoon.
Through song and slick dialogue we were whisked from the lamenting sobs of a tramp to the world of Henry VIII and from choreographing the moon landings to the inappropriate world of internet trolls. Their lyrical prowess was most impressive and the dainty references to Holbein and Pinter set to the sweet tinkering of a pianist or a guitar were a sheer delight. The Free Fringe can be a hit-and-miss affair but the Butless Chaps are genuinely funny (which I find key to comedy) although it was a pity about the tough crowd. The act deserved more of a reaction than was offered, especially in the beginning, and they did very well without a decent audience to bounce off.
There are some flaws, however, most of which can be easily fixed, such as with clearer distinctions between scenes. A clap at the end of a couple of sketches did help to break the action, although this wasn't always done, so that when it was it came across as rather half-hearted. My second gripe is that they were very lazy about breaking character when off stage. I do appreciate that a pub is not a theatre, but pouring each other drinks and exchanging whispers in full view of the audience does take breaking the 'fourth wall' to another level. Why not just hide behind the bar, or face the back wall while standing still? Either of these would have separated those on-stage from those who weren't.
There are quick fixes to both the above, though, so don't let that deter you from seeing another part of the Oxford Revue as they continue their run. If the Butless Chaps are anything to go by then there is much to look forward to.