Weirdly, the house lights come on as the show begins and by house lights, I mean the ordinary light-switch for the room. Winfamy is part of the Free Fringe and thus is naturally nestled in the side-room of a bar; heavy tech is therefore not expected. Winfamy is essentially a sketch-show that masquerades in the form of a documentary and thus with its overarching narrative claims the title of ‘theatre’ rather than comedy. Each sketch follows people who do ridiculous and sometimes mildly horrific things supposedly to earn a place in people’s mind and celebrity culture in general.

I have never seen a black comedy like this before; so dark it makes the pits of hell look a glamour disco. The line between comedy and tragedy is so finely blurred in this show that humour and horror are both natural reactions to the same sketch. Without wanting to spoil too much, subjects such as black-market organ donation and a decapitated husband are quite normal in the surreal frame of things. The actors all pull off these insane characters splendidly, being utterly convincing in each role and each showing a brilliant amount of acting range as they portray the madness on stage. The dark nature of the comedy successfully helps open up a discussion on some of the topics at hand rather than mockery (a sketch involving questionable acts to birds is not included in this statement.)

Tech expectations were not particularly high as I said earlier, but unfortunately that does not justify the interruptions of sound that burst in throughout the play. Though seemingly for scene changes only, eventually recorded clips of sound were played in the middle of sketches and froze the action on stage. The fact that only half of the sound clips are actually intelligible did not help matters and served only to jar the pace of the sketch and show significantly. The overarching framework of a documentary is never given much depth either. It would have been better to scrap any idea of a narrative altogether and just focus individually on these mad people in front of us rather than try to squeeze it into the framework, especially when the main benefit of the framework is to use the awful sound.

Nevertheless, this is a solid show and well worth spending your time to see, as your wallet need not suffer at all if you do not want it to. Just be prepared to giggle before immediately chastising yourself for doing so at such horrific things.

Reviews by James Beagon

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The Blurb

Winfamy is a character-driven sketch show, framed as a documentary. From a hammer-wielding wife, to a mallard-molesting gent, the people who live in the fame-hungry world of Winfamy are about to be given the voice they long for.