Edinburgh Fringe 2022
With a wide variety of radio sketches packed into an hour from the pen of writer Rachel E. Thorn, this was a gentle and satisfying way to start my morning reviewing at the Fringe. Thorn has written for the likes of Dead Ringers, among others, her work has been performed by Rory Bremner.
Three talented performers (including Rachel E. Thorn herself take us through an hour of sketches, some less and a minute long, most running into a few minutes. These are sketches rooted in comedic observation of the lives we live and there is much to savour and recognise in the sharpness, but never cruelness of this material.
With scripts in hand, radio style the 32 Below venue provides an intimate space and, though script-based there is plenty of eye contact with the audience as Thorn introduces each sketch. From pug cancellation to the weather, the variety is a core strength.
The hour rushes by and this is gentle, sharp-witted, observational radio comedy. You’ll leave at the end with favourites from the many sketches on offer and, in my case, craving a cup of Builders’ tea.
Sometimes the actors gesture a bit, other times it is pure, fairly physically static reading and this was a little inconsistent across the hour. I closed my eyes during one sketch and it came to life in my imagination, as good radio drama should, with me creating the pictures. At other times I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to engage with the physical bits of acting or not. That may be ironed out as the show runs here at the Fringe.
This was my first review at this year’s Fringe and it felt like quintessential fringe, not over-designed, very direct and nonsense. comedy doesn’t have to scream to be heard and it can simply draw upon the quirks of life in all its light and shadow. This is what Sketch Up! achieves.
It all comes down to the intelligent and funny writing combined with the high quality vocal skills of the three performers who are joined up, well calibrated between each other. It is all very accomplished and there were plenty of giggles and laughs to be had. The audience clearly enjoyed the variety, the payoff lines and the geniality of the performers. Rachel was a warm host and this was a generous helping of morning comedy, unfussy,deliberate in its intentions and pulled off well by the threesome on stage.