Gigglebox review: ‘manages to delight and bemuse’

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The ’s two-night comedy bonanza ‘Gigglebox’ truly manages to delight and bemuse with its consistent brand of light-hearted comedy. An evening spent at The Assembly Rooms Theatre in this manner is certainly a welcome change from the sombre drama currently making its rounds in the Durham drama circuit. The cast of the show, an eclectic mix of Durham students, embodies a wide range of comedic talent and style, coupled with relentless physicality that did not cease until the culmination of the show.

In this case, the Revue rightfully claims the title of show; the inclusion of audience participation alone, is an ingenious decision which sets ‘Gigglebox’ apart from other productions. Furthermore it was not the trite technique of asking the audience to supply the comedians with ideas, but a seamless inclusion of the audience into the wider context of the show itself. The overarching premise being a multitude of TV shows, both from the UK and the US, which The comedians twisted into aptly focusing on Durham-related scenes or by altering well-known TV tropes and personages.

Particular personal favourites, in terms of the sketches, include ‘The History Channel’ where the comedians took it in turns to stride around the room vaguely talking about the plague, historians and, in the end staring wistfully into the distance, about humanity. The continued pacing, presenter-style drone of voice, and most memorably the jerking head movements of Luke Maskell, made this a perfectly well-rounded show of comedic talent. Parodying David Attenborough’s unmistakable speech patterns, Tom Harper, excelled in a sketch about two acquainted Durham students passing each other on the street. Abigail Weinstock and Luke Maskell, playing the aforementioned students, without a coherent word uttered between them, caused the audience to double in their chair with laughter.

Other sketches however fell relatively flat in comparison to the outstanding material which dominated ‘Gigglebox’. The discussion on how apples were sexist took much too long to get to a crude and predictable punch line. Furthermore at some points, the comedians seemed to stutter or falter and a delayed delivery took away from the comedic value of the sketch. Another minor faux pas is that despite flawless Welsh accents, the generic American accents of the troupe had a tendency to stray towards the British, thus detracting from the cohesion of the sketch itself.

Nonetheless, purposeful mistakes, such as the inability of the sound technician to play the correct sound effect at a designated time, was a poignant play on how many first nights of productions often struggle with this task. The subsequent transitions, done with contemporary pop songs which punned on the idea behind the sketches, and were played for the appropriate length of time, made certain that flicking between the channels was an effortless experience.

The comedy troupe easily holds their own ground, and simply by the multiplicity of the sketches, there will be something which appeals to everyone’s sensibility. The offer the perfect way to spend one’s Sunday afternoon, a last gasp of laughter and hilarity, before the trudge of the work week swallows everything up.

‘Gigglebox’ performs again on Sun 31 January at The Assembly Rooms Theatre, Durham. Book your tickets here

Image: Pete Reed

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