Browse reviews

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

Why is life like sparrows?

The Richard Burton Company

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Venue: Venue 13


Low Down

Three young actors tell many tales of modern life and the dissection of a Whale, in Wales. Moving swiftly from one scenario to another we are guided towards an eating contest that will make you wince and marvel at the same time. Comedy sketch making with a Welsh lilt that makes you smile. 


We start with one actor coming on to sing at her keyboards. From there we discover that the title of the show comes from simple rhyming and the absurdity set, we go at it with gusto. From the opening song we run through a vast array of sketches that include collecting gingers, bizarre choreography with audience participation, a very clever anti-racism anti-Muslim rant, jam, a rampant rhinoceros, Jack Daniel’s requiem and a sprout eating semi final that is as disgusting as it sounds.

This is sharply observed comedy that flows well. At times the transitions between each scene were a little patchy at the beginning but became so much slicker later on. The cleaning piece and the torch piece in particular were really good. It was well directed and once warmed up, at no time was the pace allowed to slacken. It was also at 45 minutes pitched correctly. It never wavered.

All three performers matched the challenge of the comedic elements of the script and direction. In particular the laughs at the beginning were genuine and natural – unforced. All three do not try too hard and I have to say a particular favourite of mine was the jam. It just hit you and went a way you didn’t expect. The sprout eating contest was admirable at that time of the morning but what was impressive was when the girl who was clearly meant to be the equivalent of the dolly who holds up cards between bouts comes in to help clean up. Her discomfort when the competitor takes her time digging the sprouts out of her mouth was fantastically observed. It made the sketch even funnier.

There was little by way of any set but the props were never wasted. All were used to their maximum effect and the actors were able to create each scenario in a specific place through words, lighting and movement. This was particularly true of the graveyard scene. The squirming in the audience as our actor came out into the audience was touchable.

This is a show that Venue 13 do best. Wry, funny and with enough originality to hit the mark. I really enjoyed this morning start because the performances were delivered with confidence, panache and style.