Review: KEITH ‘Standing in the Rain’

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With tight delivery, fast pacing and rapid-fire punchlines, KEITH’s Standing In The Rain solves an age-old debate between quality and quantity by giving us both. Callum Maclean, Jack Firoozan and Mungo Russell return as the infamous sketch comedy troupe KEITH, delivering 46 sketches in 60 minutes where “nothing is off limits”. Don’t be deterred by the promise of “edgy” comedy, however, while the subject matter of many of the sketches could be labelled as “crass”, KEITH’s combination of clever writing, excellent delivery and unlimited energy will ensure you are lying on floor, rolling with laughter, before immediately making you re-examine what’s okay to laugh at.

The energy and pace that the trio bring to their scenes is what gives a surprisingly short show given how much substance as it has. Quick-fire sketches that last all but a few lines are often grouped together, allowing the trio to deliver fantastic punchlines in quick succession. The audience is also given breaks with longer sketches spread evenly throughout the show, keeping them from getting lost and also giving the troupe more time to deliver more intricate and slow-burning jokes.

One particular sketch, halfway through the show, involves a musical performance both demonstrating the trio’s surprisingly good singing chops and their ability to insert the same insanity into their lyrics as they do with their scripts. Of course, every actor manages to stand out in their own individual performances. Russell’s fantastic dedication to character work, Maclean’s wide variety of accents and the sheer number of ways Firoozan can make sticking his hand down his shorts funny all work together to create an incredibly strong performance. The chemistry and camaraderie between each performer is felt from the very first line.

I’d also be remiss not to mention some excellent tech work which this show uses. Many sketches incorporate sound effects to both immerse its audience and add an external layer of comedy for the performers to work off. One sketch even has its punchline delivered by a prolonged fade-out. While each sketch is fairly minimalist, prop usage is used to full effect when incorporated into the sketch. One can only imagine what that poor baby doll has gone through in the rehearsal stage of the show and, I will admit, this show really brings to light a horrifying use for party hats that I will never forget.

However, no show is without its flaws. While the troupe’s pacing is excellent throughout the show, the quality of sketches peaks before its final “act” as it were. While the last series of sketches are still hilarious, having some of the biggest laughs in the show in the first half makes the ending feel a little lacklustre. There were a few disorderly scene changes, actors rapidly switching places or rushing to get into position and one instance where a particular costume change caused the scene change to be three times as long as normal (though the sketch that followed it was more than worth it). Overall, KEITH’s Standing In The Rain doesn’t feel like it’s 60 minutes long. It’s so bombastically funny and entertaining that you feel like you’re on a roller-coaster ride of comedy and it’s over in 5 minutes, but it also has so much substance and so many original and hilarious jokes packed into it that it feels as though there is no possible way they can deliver it all in an hour. Either way, I’m incredibly glad I went to see it and look forward to seeing KEITH’s future endeavours.

Image by KEITH

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