Venue: The Basement, City Screen
‘The Clandestine Sketch Show’ and ‘The Room: The Musical’ shared a double bill because both are headed for Edinburgh, and both involve ComedySoc staple Ed Greenwood, co-creator of Clandestine and writer of TRTM. While the two shows share some similar moments of humour, Clandestine begun the night with an hour of sketches, and then left off for the debut show of the musical, a parody of the famous laughably-bad film.
The double billing pulled in audiences who were there for either and both, and the venue was easily filled. While the Basement Bar is not ideal for plays, lacking proper wings and with poor audience visibility in places, much of the night went smoothly. Those at the sides will have missed most of Clandestine’s sign-aided puns, and some of the green screen jokes from TRTM, but otherwise the show ran with little incident.
Clandestine is, by now, a well-polished show with established dynamics between their performers. Greenwood and Charles Deane have built the show tightly around their comic personas, and sketch flows into sketch with energy and no moment for pause. Highlights of the set were the comedy songs, audible despite the lack of microphones, perfectly timed, especially ‘I’m a Feminist’. After several individual sketches had been established, clever and satisfying crossovers between them were added to the mix. While the show was clearly tickled its target audience, there was overall an overuse of consciously unfunny sketches. While anti-humour is part of Clandestine’s style, the combination of the overlong ‘bull in a china shop’ triplet, several blatantly bad bird puns, and the well-loved Ham-Fists, made the self-conscious humour wear thin. However, I was extremely glad to see another outing of sitcom-mismatched best friends, ‘Lulu & Cthulhu’.
‘The Room: The Musical’ has far outgrown its origins as an ODN. Now with better access to props, and stronger voices, the original joy of the piece remains intact and embellished. While now missing George Hughes’ excruciatingly creepy Denny, Harry Elletson brings an appropriate hugeness to help highlight the role, and now boasts his own song. Joe Beaumont plays the vital part of Tommy Wiseau, and his imitation of the idiosyncratic voice, mannerisms and laugh remains impeccable, as were many of the other imitations. The songs were rightful highlights, although perhaps not so far as to justify the show’s status as a musical, and singing was strong across the cast. Finally, small touches, such as the moments of self-parody, reflections on Wiseau’s childhood as a spoon, and the gloriously campy lions, topped off an already-hilarious show.
While tastes in comedy will always vary, the combination of sketch and parody was sure to please, and I should think every member of the audience got at least one, if not several, laughs out of the night. Both shows will hopefully excel in Edinburgh, and perhaps return to York on a more appropriate stage, and with a bigger audience capacity – they’ll need it.