Brighton Fringe 2009
The C**t Monologues
Casual Violence Comedy
Venue: The Marlborough Theatre
Festival: Brighton Fringe
Casual Violence Comedy are a Brighton-based troupe, based around James Hamilton. Here they present a series of monologues which range across the human condition taking in a dead Jimi Hendrix, a monologue on monologues and a cave man on a laptop
We’re guaranteed "A splendid time" by sketch comedy group Casual Violence Comedy, and we’re certainly presented with an enjoyable evening of comedy monologues, under the attention-grabbing title of The C**t Monologues (revealed as the Coat Monologues in the programme).
James Hamilton has put together a show that allows the energy and strong delivery skills of the group to come across. The strength of this show lies in some the performances, delivered with a vocal punch that hits the back walls of the Marlborough Theatre with ease. Physical and facial theatre skills ensure that all of the cast step convincingly into the skins of their characters.
From a caveman on a laptop to someone telling a story of a sex with a ghost, the material ranges widely, yet sits uncomfortably between punchline sketch format and black comedy drama. Sometimes this discomfort works in favour of the show and the material is engaging with the occasional laugh. At other times it is clearly attempting to be laugh-a-minute comedy and it falls short. It attempts to shock, e.g. a traffic warden who drowns cats, but there’s too much explanation, too much spoken narrative and we aren’t clear if we are supposed to be watching a Pythonesque attempt to make us laugh at the absurd, or whether we’re witness to funny people saying funny things where the comedy material is more important for our response than the dramatic element.
The attempts to shock have been done before. Cruelty to animals and referencing to various orifices are no longer shocking – the nervous laughter was less than it should be. This is also becoming a problem with stand-up comedy as we realise that, once we have covered cancer, sex in all positions and various kinds of cruelty, we’re really at the limits of inventiveness.
You might think from all of this that FringeReview doesn’t recommend this show. You’d be wrong. The breadth of material, the boldness to take on monologues and deliver them with skill and full-on commitment, the inventiveness of some of the writing (the monologue on monologues was a strong opener) and the ease with which the show was delivered all suggest a young group at the beginning of something – something that is going to develop into something special in the future. This is one of the more energetic performances I have seen of late, where the energy matches the controlled physicality. I also applaud the attempt in the writing to be bold, to be different, and to explore comedy at a philosophical level. I think this is a group to keep an eye on in the future, and there’s enough in this show to entertain and intrigue.
Flawed but good. Good but flawed.