The Leeds Tealights - The Ultimate Indoor Experience

Sat 3rd – Sun 25th August 2013

reviews

Costanza Bertoni

at 10:16 on 5th Aug 2013

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Energy: that is what you want from a sketch show, and especially one that rather dauntingly names itself ‘The Ultimate Indoor Experience.’ Living up to the title of the production, the Leeds Tealight’s little flame felt more like a flaring up of comedy, pace and fireworks of fun. It is definitely the most dazzling sketch company I have seen so far.

The Leeds Tealights are a group of four characters, in both senses of the word, whose personalities and unique senses of humour really came across in their performances, adding a touch of familiarity to the show which also made it distinct from anything I had seen before. This personality and connection with the audience are actually what sparked most of my enthusiasm for the Leeds Tealights. Generally, sketch shows can at times seem distant from the audience, who despite being able to appreciate the humour, can also see how extensively scripted the piece is. The Tealights however, involved the audience in many ways, performing to them as if they were a group of journalists, people in need of a pep talk, and even inviting an audience member on stage as the lucky new addition to their troupe.

Although the venue is a rather dingy, attic room, the quality of the production was not at all reflected by its setting. In fact, the sheer pace and boisterousness of both the humour and the cast meant that the initial discomfort of the room was entirely forgotten.

Taking you through from the adventures of unfortunate travelers in the Arctic to William Shakespeare’s career day, the ‘ultimate indoor experience’, although it is ultimately indoors, is really an experience. The cast that create this animated and unrestrained fun, are exceedingly talented and appear comfortable on stage at all times, even coping well with accent slip-ups. So if you’d like to see who Skippy and Flipper are, why secret Santa in the office is never a good idea, and why in a motivational talk it is important to be pesific (specific) then pop along to see the Leeds Tealights.

Trying to single out the most talented or humorous cast member proved to be simply impossible. I’d really like to congratulate Joe Barnes, Barnaby Callaby, Hugh Coles, and Henry Perryment for this most excellent indoor experience.

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Natasha Hyman

at 10:24 on 5th Aug 2013

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Instant confidence and charisma, and scenarios that are at once clever, touching and ingeniously silly. What makes this sketch group particularly good is that they are all fantastic actors, as well as comedians. They switch between characters and situations with such ease and fluidity; I don’t think I’ve ever seen such versatile performers at the Fringe. The commitment to their roles was also top rate; my overall favourite was where we met ‘Skippy and Flipper’ the Australian dolphin and kangaroo, played with absolute engagement.

Hugh Coles, Henry Perryment, Joe Barnes and Barnaby Callaby led us through a series of bafflingly brilliant sketches. One of my favourites was a metatheatrical sketch-within-a sketch, (wittily termed ‘inskeption’) where noone was really sure how much control they had over their own thoughts or actions. On top of this, the audience was moved between scenes so slickly that we barely noticed.

We were met by numerous clever twists, such as the gradual reveal that the (all-male cast) were enacting a lesbian relationship. Another ingenious turn was a dinner party, which, through the gradual insertion of biblical names, turned out to be the Last Supper. None of these descriptions really explain the sketches, let alone do them justice - a mark of truly top notch sketch comedy.

At times the confidence of the group constituted half the delivery. Some jokes near the beginning fell a bit flat and others were just simply implausible; for example, a sketch we kept returning to where a work colleague is asked to come up with names for various projects. After the first scene, where he suggests ‘Lynch the Rapist’ for a kids TV programme, we wonder why his colleague still asks him to continue coming up with ideas, despite his evident irritation. Another sketch about Shakespeare attending a parents evening with his dad also somewhat failed on me; I couldn’t understand the point in putting Shakespeare in a modern context, the teacher complaining that he couldn’t understand his syntax. It would have been far more believable to do a parents evening in Shakespeare’s own time. Other sketches were taken too far: a break-up where the girlfriend leaves with everything, even the carpet and the Aga.

Inevitably these problems were overshadowed by the abilities of the group. They were obviously doing what they love, and having a lot of fun doing it. Their enthusiasm was infectious, it even detracted from the uncomfortably stuffy venue. This really is the ultimate indoor experience.

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