The Squiffy Journals

In a suitably dank place, a darkly comic tone is set by this troupe's exploration of the less glamorous elements of the entertainment industry, tempered somewhat by more light-hearted scenes of what we'd like to see, but generally don't.Priests compete in Pineapple Dance Studios and the Go Compare! tenor gets his comeuppance. Disney characters and iconic musical figures are frisked, with shocking results, while disgruntled Oompa Loompas threaten strike action.All takes place across a series of songs, dances and witty exchanges between the cast, showcasing obvious talent and great discipline. The four-man musical comedy sketch group, alongside their keyboardist, are recent graduates from Lane, and they clearly put to good use the skills that they have learnt. The real winner is that everything is enhanced by their genuinely clever perspective and creative original writing.The group's vocals are tight, with some beautiful harmonies in the numbers where they butcher, as barbershop quartet 'The Divorcees', some popular classics in a kind of send-up of Il Divo.Beyond the fantastically coordinated choreography, there are impressive athletic feats – backflips and splits – from unlikely looking sources and a whole host of disablingly funny facial expressions.Some particularly strong scenes which bring together all these strong performance elements see AmDram: The Musical in development, set in a stage school, in which we see a hilarious number about 'tradition'. What becomes increasingly evident is that the group is systematically and methodically deconstructing each and every element of the conventionally portrayed happy-clappy world of musical theatre and even challenging it, with their presentation of unlikely stars (the Grannies).When not slapstick or playing on appropriate sexual stereotypes, the comedy is often lewd and awkward, and much of what they say is shockingly unacceptable by most standards; yet it's cheekily filthy and they get away with it all, such are their charm and perma-smiles. The show delights in indulging the Id.It's not all perfect – at times the stage is left empty for that little bit too long. Backing tracks are played far too loud at points and some of the straight comedy at the beginning isn't that strong; however, this being their first trip to the Fringe, they have already attracted attention from the newcomer awarding bodies. I say watch out, these might be next year's big thing.

Reviews by Fen Greatley

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The Blurb

Have your fancy thoroughly tickled as the Squiffy team delve into their infamous sketchbook, collaborating their musical skits, farcical etchings and presenting the freshest comedy review of 2011. Squiffy Productions: the freshest thing on the comedy menu.

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