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Brighton Fringe 2012

A Séance with the Ogden Sisters

Trifle Gathering Productions

Genre: Comedy, Drama


 Hendrick's Library of Delightfully Peculiar Writings


Low Down

 With a complimentary Hendrick’s Gin in hand, we are invited to "meet world-famous mediums The Ogden Sisters in 1892 as they contact the spirit-world and experience the marvellous, mysterious and peculiar", in a one hour and a bit comedy ride through the world of Victorian mediumship.


 The Hendricks Library is a near perfect setting for this theatrical journey into the world of mediums and the origins of the spiritualist movement.

The noise bleed did this intimate piece no favours and the venue needs to pay more attention to this. The company compensated and certainly delivered a vocal punch for the next seventy minutes of farcical humour.
And  we soon got used to these conditions with the help of a free gin.
A comedy exploration of Victorian spiritualism abd mediumship is clearly in rather inappropriate hands. There’s a mix of comedy and information and the pseudo authoritative presentation resonates with the outed Derek Acorah’s of today. Not all of the wordplay is necessary and it impedes the narrative in places. Here we have a word- and idea-heavy show that would benefit from a bit of an edit.
Constant Ogden wishes to arrange a manifestation at five and twenty past the nine. We, the audience, are there to witness it. The physical theatre is a strength and I wish there was  more of it. The piece feels too wordy and it’s another example of a production that is missing the power of pausing and silence. This creates a pacing that feels too unmodulated. Conscious placement of some silence will create even more comedy and consequentially audience laughter. As it is it raises many laughs and chuckles but needs and deserves to go further.  Much of the comedy is farcical and it raises laughs at different times from different members of the audience but rarely us all. This is because much of the comedy wordplay is funny but unhinged from the central focus of the show: mediumship. Some of the fakery is too juvenile and so this creates too much caricature. More subtlety would have given the comedy more texture. The farce sometimes  is too blunt.
Criticisms over – because, despite them, there’s much to enjoy here too. It isnt actually a subtle and penetrating satire on spiritualism. But if you then let go of a wish for a sharp satire on mediumship and surrender to the farce then you will enjoy plenty of humour.
When we put on our blindfolds the show began to shine and we bathed in an aura of some fine and often perfectly timed sound effect comedy that makes full aural and physical use of the space. The style almost trips into 1970s television comedy. We are in a the territory of Spike Milligan, a bit of Python and a fair smattering of the Goons. The show is crammed with comedy set pieces and the pace rarely lets up. And they manage to involve just about all of our senses, to hilarious effect.
Spiritualism doesn’t come off particularly favourable in a show that will get the thumbs up from the skeptics. The three "ladies" are skilled performers and give 110% to their characters and to their material.
It’s full of invention, packed with verbal, physical and prop gags and a of the performers are strong comedic performers. A fun hour.