Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Fast-paced sketch comedy from this female Mancunian quintet who are now establishing themselves as firm Fringe favourites.
It’s a packed audience, mostly people in their twenties and thirties, which bodes well for this sketch show featuring the all-girl quintet of young writers and performers that is Lady Garden. Starting as they mean to go on, we see the five somewhat the worse for wear on a hen night with the “hen” tasked with downing a substance of dubious origin, egged on by the others grasping, to the untrained eye, a selection of what appeared to be sex toys.
With such a full-on start, this is definitely not a show for the prudish or faint hearted. Yet you can detect an engaging inventiveness about a lot of the sketches as they tumble around you at breakneck speed, so quickly that you hardly have time to laugh (or groan at some well-placed irony) before the next one begins. Their ingenuity extends through the classic verbal skit to mime and even pure silence as slick changes of costume, props, character and situation ensure there is something to amuse most of the audience most of the time.
That’s one of the challenges in pulling together any sketch show – making sure that you don’t lose the audience – and Lady Garden’s well thought out script ensures that variants on a number of ideas maintain that all important flow of laughter. We had a series of tattoos that go wrong, an extended parody on the iconic cigar advert of the 1970’s and a series of equine encounters on which to muse. Dovetailing with these thematic sketches were pieces including a nervous entertainer and her hapless producer, a non-too gentle send up of the falseness that inhabits many job interviews and a dating agency with a difference – let’s just say it was rather equine focused.
The variety of material gives the girls plenty of opportunity to demonstrate their aptitude for characterization, stereotyping and caricatures. A lot of thought has also gone into equipping the set with a dizzying array of props and costumes which both add to the sketches as well as facilitating the quick changes essential to keeping the whole show flowing and the audience engaged. Clever use of an old-fashioned slide show projector ensured that the audience at least knew what was coming next, or what they had just witnessed. And the icing on the cake was the creative use of apposite musical stings to link the sketches or even, in a couple of cases, as the sketch itself.
Most of the show isn’t laugh out loud material but it’s generally clever, often inventive humour. It gets a 4* rating because Lady Garden have a very clear idea of the audience they are targeting – principally the 20-35 age range attending in couples or small groups – and their material hit the bulls eye judging from the sustained and loud applause that greeted the final sketch.
So if you fit that audience description, this is a show I would highly recommend. But if you’re don’t, think carefully about whether you want to attend, or you may end up like our wee “hen” that starts off the show – being forced to swallow something not quite to your taste.