It’s been a while since I have seen a piece of “Fringe” theatre which is ironic as my university years were spent performing in backrooms of sweaty pubs at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Feeling somewhat out of touch with the scene I decided to rekindle my early love of all things Fringe and took a trip to Londons “Top Secret Comedy Club” to see a new collaborative piece of theatre by Pen and Rose and Encompass Productions, Life in a Sketch Book
So, immediately I was hit with possibly the best thing about Fringe theatre; it’s cheap! Or in the case of this show, it’s FREE! It isn’t profiteering from our hunger for entertainment, and baring in mind the Comedy Club is within walking distance to the West Ends top theatres that charge £50 odd a ticket, that is no small feat! Whilst free theatre can inevitably be a bit of a gamble, you have literally nothing to lose but an hour of your time. In the instance of this fresh new production, you will certainly be winning the theatrical lottery!
Life in a Sketchbook is written by the rather amusing new writer, Emma Minihan, and is compiled of six short drama-comedy sketches (ah – don’t we all love a good pun!) each sketch is a kind of heightened reality scenario, the kind of everyday situation (lunch break, job application, house hunting) we may all find our selves in from time to time but brought to its extreme. The sketches are funny and fast paced, each like a delicious chunk of a Cadbury Dairy Milk bar; you have one, you want another and if one were missing you would feel cheated by its absence!
The actors from Encompass were solid, particularly Zuri Warren, who brought to life the perils of smoothie drinking with a zesty vigor. I am also told that he stepped in at the last minute to replace a drop out actor, which I can’t help but think probably worked out for the best as his energy brought a new dynamic to the group.
I felt that production designer Hilary McCool could have brought up her scenic elements a notch or two as to match the heightened nature of the sketches, as it is it seemed a bit too sparse to really compliment the production. Perhaps this is a problem with Fringe Theatre funding though, rather than an act of neglect.
All in all, Life In a Sketchbook was a true delight to watch; 60 minutes of uninterrupted enjoyment which best of all relates to life scenarios each and every member of the audience will have had at some point in their lives. After seeing the show I firmly believe that anyone who likes live performance should nurture Fringe Theatre. Without willing creative’s such as Pen and Rose and Encompass who want to share their work because they genuinely love performance, god knows what the future would hold for the arts! Probably way more film adapted musicals with actors cast from failed X Factor try outs.
Official Theatre’s rating:
In Conversation With The Creative Team
I caught up with writer Emma Minihan and Charlie Limm from Pen and Rose as well and Jonathan Woodhouse from Encompass Productions after the show. Together we sat on a (very loud!) staircase, as all creatives do, and had a chat about the show!
Life In a Sketchbook runs at the Top Secret Comedy Club on every Tuesday in July (9th, 16th, 23rd, 30th)