Image credit: Greg Bartlett

Image credit: Greg Bartlett

Production: Charm//Offensive
Venue: The Newsroom, Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Running: August 15-23 at 00.15am

Suitable for sketch show veterans or those (like myself) who are not attracted to the work of ‘comedians’, Charm//Offensive offers exactly what its edgy label presents.

The two man (or more appropriately, one man, one woman) show comes with an original script written by ‘The Performance Terrorists’ Henry Fosdike and Sophie Petzal. At a secret first viewing of the sketch show that they will be taking to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival next week, a small but select audience gathered to preview the duo’s first performance – a vibrant coupling resulting in effortless charm between the pair.

Sketches include eccentric homegrown characters devised by the duo as well as often controversial insight into the world of popular culture, destroying socially accepted norms in every sketch. Aimed at a ‘young adult’ audience but advertised as an over-18 show, Charm//Offensive will appeal to a brutally cynical and in no way prudish generation.

Although Charm//Offensive may not please fans of all things politically correct, The Performance Terrorists treat subjects like Facebook, the Samaritans Helpline, and budgeted UK television shows with a refreshing dose of realism from these two Scriptwriting for Film and Television students. Their perspective is not one of teenage angst, rather the result of creativity in the face of alternate (or perhaps accurate) everyday realities they wish to criticise, recognise, and expose.

Petzal’s understated confidence compliments Fosdike’s impassioned rants, whilst eradicating any preconceptions of comediennes whose success demands controversy. The ‘offensive’ parts of this show avoid outcry by allowing no pause long enough for the audience to object without inducing laughter once again.

While Petzal sharpness invites value to be placed on how each of the 13 sketches holds the audience’s attention, Fosdike uses physical comedy to maintain the energy of the show. Without a plotline to link every sketch, diverse scripting manages to feature the pair dancing the Macarena.

Breaking the fourth wall without necessarily meaning to, the duo occasionally ask imaginary onlookers questions during a scene of rape education. Leaving the audience wanting to reply, they refrain only for fear of not wanting to participate in any ‘offensive’ consequences. It’s no cause for concern that the pair have not yet seen the set they will be performing in during their week at the Fringe, their set requires only two chairs and enough room to be heard.

Charm//Offensive is ideal for those who appreciate fast-paced scripting and 45 minutes of on-stage continuity. Punch-lines which leave the audience in a moment of afterthought waiting for impact work in the duo’s favour as they drift from sketch to sketch using only a myriad of hidden props: gun, tie, boiler suits, rosary beads, balaclavas.

Want to find out how an Oscar winning World War Two film is really made? Or see the dirty truth of Scrabble Live unfold? If you don’t like something The Performance Terrorists present, don’t watch – they’ll be onto something even more entertaining in a matter of seconds anyway.

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