6 x 6 x 6
Comedians Theatre Company
For its 12th year at the Fringe, Comedians Theatre Company has chosen to present "six different brand-new 20 minute long theatrical duologues on the theme Together? Asunder" curated by Maggie Inchley and Phil Nichol. The performance I saw featured three of them plus a recurring piece to link it together.
The links were a couple in the audience having an argument, analysing one another's behaviour. It doesn't really go anywhere, although there is an attempt to bring it together into some sort of ending as they leave at the end.
The opening is a meeting between a school governor and a head teacher who keeps finding excuses to close his school, St Thomas's in Willesden, with the result that it never opens at all. His excuses become more and more bizarre, culminating in the sighting of a yeti in Willesden.
This really is an old-fashioned comedy sketch—a touch of Two Ronnies with maybe a dash of Python—extended way beyond its effective length, and so quickly becoming repetitive. As a sketch, it will inevitably have a punchline ending, and it isn't very hard to guess what that will be.
The middle piece, however, is rather good, and performed very effectively without any attempt to try to force comedy out of the situation—which makes it funnier. It features a young couple who have moved in together but have no "stuff".
At first the play appears to be a satirical comment on the inaccessibility of the housing market to young people, but our two protagonists prove to be quite unlikeable, being quite shockingly frank with their criticisms of one another and materialistic to the extent of betting on which of their parents will die first and leave them a nice house. But there is a shock in store for them.
The final piece is a mythical sibling battle for inheritance through two female twins who once had a triplet brother who died in mysterious circumstances 25 years earlier. It's an interesting story but fairly predictable and the self-consciously quirky style of performance can quickly become wearing.
It is difficult to get the balance right when writing a play of this length, to create a real story with some depth and resonance that doesn't come across as either an extended comedy sketch or a fragment of something that needs longer to develop.
None of these succeeds entirely, but the middle piece shows some real skill in both the writing and the performance to make you want to see more.
Reviewer: David Chadderton