Twisted Loaf Present Stale Mate

Libby Northedge begins Twisted Loaf: Stale Mate on her hands and knees, crawling onto the darkened stage, starkers but for her underwear, smudged make-up, and a pair of glittery high heels. The demented duo brings something new to sketch comedy – this is not your standard routine. The seconds tick by as Nina Smith and Northedge spend minutes just gurning at the audience. The pair tell most of their stories using their bodies. It’s an impressive feat of clowning. – their brand of humour might not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s brave, brash and provocative.

Their constant pranking and fighting is one of the most enjoyable aspects of their show.

The lengthy opening skit has Smith as ringmaster to Northedge’s half-dressed crawler, holding her by a leash and coaxing her with a bag of white powder. The atmosphere in the room is uncertain, but the commitment of the performers is unfaltering. The pair connect with the audience throughout, asking men for a hand up the stairs, to hold their leash, and even to down a pint. Their confrontational approach is enough to make you nervous, but it's well-judged and non-intrusive.

As the set gets properly underway Twisted Loaf reveal more of their off-kilter comedy through verbal as well as physical play. They riff on the contrast between social sophistry and bodily mechanics, accompanying silly actions with a posh North London drawl. The process of gentrification is given a zany twist as the pair frantically scrawl labels onto each other’s body-parts with black felt-tip (‘What is that?’ ‘It used to be an arm but now it’s a pret-a-manger’).

Many sketches are purely physical; a ‘legs, bums, and tums’ aerobics routine occurs and recurs with increasing hilarity. One baffling sketch, of questionable taste, features a job interview with a woman who seems to be going through some kind of drug-induced episode. However, in the context of their show it fits in; just one of Twisted Loaf’s many excuses to make a grotesque image.

Smith and Northedge make a strong team, and their constant pranking and fighting is one of the most enjoyable aspects of their show. If you can stomach their scatological humour, Twisted Loaf is certainly worth a watch.

Reviews by Kate Wilkinson

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

A year on, none the wiser. Or are they? Twisted Loaf hurl themselves on the stage. Nina is ripe, perhaps too ripe, even for superstar cabaret sensation Libby. Another hilarious hour of overblown ambition and extreme attitude from two of the daftest comedy loafers around. Mixing contemporary clowning and physical characterisation. ‘Balances on a knife edge of genius and mental illness’ (List). ‘Strange, dark and unpredictable. Twisted Loaf almost defy description.’ (Chortle.co.uk). ‘You don't often see female comedians prepared to make such fools of themselves’ (Bruce Dessau).