Edinburgh Fringe 2009
TeakShow Twisted Sketches.
Venue: Gilded Balloon Teviot
Festival: Edinburgh Fringe
The Teak Show is a collection of increasingly strange sketches from comedic double act Jackie Stirling and Johnny Hansler. Transporting it’s audience into the TeakZone, a land where the Tesco sign is green and, oddly, there are no parsnips, the duo whisk through a fast paced and delightfully original set. Definitely different, the Twisted Sketches are, in parts, absolutely genius.
It is virtually impossible to give a plot description, as there isn’t really a plot. Certain sketches, such as a repressed 1920s couple, and readings from the wonderfully poetic “book of delights”, return several times throughout the show, giving it a loose structure. The effortless, polished transitions between sketches reveal that these two are on top of their game and effectively keep up the rip-roaring pace.
Certain characters and sketches work far better than others. An American preacher who insists that Jesus was an American, is both modern and hilariously funny, in fact it’s verging on genius. A somewhat terrifying and gloriously clueless sex agony-aunt also hits the jackpot: the audience instantly in hysterics. However, all of the characters in the show have the same base ‘weirdness’: they are all wide-eyed, creepy, and have the same over-exaggerated vocals. For some this works, and for others, it feels tired and overused.
In a similar way, some of the sketches are simply not that funny. Some feel like they are being weird just to be weird, and not to be comedic. The show, on the whole, needs some editing and re-working in order for the truly brilliant sketches to take centre stage, as it were, and to be rid of some of the less effective characters and concepts.
The duo, however, work brilliantly together and really bounce off each other and strive through improvisation. The audience sits uncomfortably on their seats, nervously wondering whether either of the strange characters in front of them are about to attack them, harass them and drag them into the world of teak. This, in a strangely fantastic way and quite unique way, creates an awkward tension that really works for the nature of the show. One finds themselves hopelessly stuck between the surreal feelings of wanting to leave, but desperately inclined to stay and see what happens next…
On the whole, an enjoyable sketch comedy that is certainly suitable for fans of surrealism. Uncomfortably funny, deliriously bizarre and well executed, a good way of escaping any mundane afternoon.