Elizabeth Bower: Onions and Dragons @ Etcetera Theatre
We’ll see Making Faces‘s audience parents and raise you a possible grandmother at Onions and Dragons, here to see her possible granddaughter in a big white frock. Elizabeth Bower has bought a wedding dress for the purpose, it seems, of taking the piss out of women who sing folk songs wearing wedding dresses (and as the hook to hang this show on). For the dress belonged to one Sophie Jones, who advertised it as ‘second hand, unworn’, and it arrived smelling of disappointment. Elizabeth wants to find Sophie and make sure she’s OK, so we get a bunch of different Sophie Jones’s: the OCD librarian, a woman who loves queueing, a precocious kid, a hallucinating boxer, a tair-ribly posh professional mourner, a video game character and idiot street poet Boris Johnson.
It is brilliant. Sharply observed, occasionally sliding into satire, with some gaspingly-funny topical jokes that we think went over the heads of many audience members (look, we have to read about London politics for work). Usually we’d whine a bit that maybe the central narrative was a bit weak but we don’t care; when sketches are this good you can take narrative and shove it in a box smelling of disappointment. You’ve got one more chance to catch this show and it’s today at 4.30pm. Run. Run now.
15% of The Seagull @ Etcetera Theatre
Liberty Martin (played by Liberty Martin) is so desperate to play Nina in Chekhov’s The Seagull that she sets up her own theatre company. After all the actors apart from Cheryl Mayer (played by Cheryl Mayer) walk out, they decide to adapt the play as a two-hander.
Unlike Liberty and Cheryl’s (characters) attempts to stage real thea-ter, Liberty and Cheryl (real) make an excellent hour of character comedy, always staying just the right side of parody, even including a barney about how two people are supposed to play multiple characters on stage as a wink to the audience as we lost count of the ‘cast’. They also incorporate a very funny primer for idiots (like us) who haven’t seen The Seagull without turning into Captain Exposition. Bad wigs, good accents, clever jokes, fake boobs, real heart.
15% of The Seagull has now finished, but keep an eye on their website for future dates in London.
Deadpan Alley @ Camden Head
It is perhaps cruel to put three deadpan comedians on in the hottest room in Camden at 9.30pm. Or perhaps we’ve just had a long day or haven’t had enough to drink; either way, there’s a lack of energy in the room and the comedy suffers. Andy Storey’s set seems to rely heavily on audience chat, but he gets a woman with a burned hand, a lad who says he fancies his sister (sitting next to him) and Howard, a man in his 60s who follows Storey around the country. None of these people are comedy gold. Indeed, comedy gold-void Howard manages to break the flow of following comedians India Macleod and Tommy Barnes, who not only has to deal with the heat and Howard but also a broken leg.
Macleod and Barnes step round the Howard-shaped lump in the road and hit the spot with gags about relationships and martial arts classes. It’s all fine but pretty safe, and not even excitable compere Suzy Wylde can really get the crowd going. Maybe best for that Sunday-easing-into-bank-holiday-Monday vibe, which is handy because the show runs until then.
Deadpan Alley is on at 9.30pm until Sunday 26 August at the Camden Head, 100 Camden High Street. Tickets £7.50 / £5.50.
Read more of our Camden Fringe coverage.