On the way to see Messrs Comedy play the Leicester Square Theatre, some things happened to your correspondent that turned out to be more interesting than the show we were ultimately seeing. These were some not so great things, and are detailed as follows: I saw and got death stares from a dancing lady in a veil in Soho who was not happy with either the fact that she was dancing or that she was in Soho; a Big Issue seller said “Bless me son, for I have sinned” and then actually tweaked my nipple, through my shirt; we arrived at the theatre only to be told they were running late and to amuse ourselves for twenty minutes, which we did by walking around Leicester Square and being harangued by sub-par caricaturists; I wore a cardigan inside-out for over 45 minutes; we saw an old acquaintance whose name we completely forgot and in some fit of hubris decided to try and confidence it out by bellowing “I’m so sorry, I cannot remember your name! I AM SO SORRY!”
The descent of your correspondent into a series of fitful Curb Your Enthusiasm-lite disasters is relevant here for one reason: we were not exactly primed to watch a comedy show, here. Thankfully, Messrs Comedy did not deliver one.
Messrs Comedy is Hugh O’Shea and James Britton, joined for the current run of shows by Jayne Edwards, Chloe Thorpe and Daisy Marsden. All five (which, for the sketches on show, was a cast member too far) come from acting backgrounds, and it shows: competent performers to the last, their attempts at comedy were flat and completely wide of the mark. The introductory sketch, for example, was a two-minute audio routine called ‘Bad Movies,’ which the audience had to listen to in complete darkness, for, as we said, two minutes, before any actors actually came on stage. There were thirteen of these sketches, throughout the show. Thirteen.
Now, audio sketches can work – an O’Shea and Britton both have radio credits, to their credit – but they only tend to work on a radio, or through some headphones, or not to a roomful of people sat on chairs in the dark. Trying to repeat any minute success that has come from an esoteric radio sketch to a roomful of actual, real-life people was always doomed to fail. The main problem with Messrs is nobody seemed to have told them it was a show.
We’re being harsh. O’Shea makes for a good straight man, and James Britton has the makings of a decent comic actor, but they need some sketches with actual jokes in – rather than a misguided and occasionally word-for-word joke-less parody of The Dark Knight – to really shine.
Messrs Comedy, 30 May (7.30pm), Leicester Square Theatre, WC1