Review: Loitering

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As a big comedy fan, KEITH.’s Loitering is a really refreshing take on what sketch comedy can be. It feels at home on City Theatre’s intimate stage, which creates the ideal atmosphere for such an innovative sketch show. Some aspects of the show could benefit from some attention, but overall the show is certainly entertaining and enjoyable.

The cast, armed with minimal props and their signature Hawaiian shirts, work together really well. For just five people, the show has a large array of unique characters, and never feels like someone’s missing. They have a great sense of cohesion as a troupe, which is typified between and Arthur Drury’s Stormtrooper and Darth Vader characters. That sketch is a particular favourite, being one of many which feel very well-rehearsed. However, I must mention some other highlights.

For just five people, the show has a large array of unique characters, and never feels like someone’s missing

The show’s opening witches sketch is a great choice, establishing the tone very well for the rest of the show. Arthur’s whimsical characterisation is delightful, and the sketch’s darker undertones are a great fit for KEITH.’s typical style. This sketch’s ending also introduces Phoenix Ashworth’s policeman character, who recurs throughout the show. After the policeman’s second appearance, comes a sketch about Chris Evans. and Patrick O’Connell are both very well-cast in their roles here and play off each other really well. A mention must also go to the writer of this sketch, as it has some hilarious lines.

Unfortunately, a collection of sketches in the middle of the show are slightly too crude for my taste. I feel it overuses shock, perhaps being extreme for extremity’s sake. This is an unfortunate overall theme of the show, and once the shock value wears off, the cruder material starts to feel a little awkward. A more varied selection of subject matter and styles would benefit the show. Some of the better extreme sketches elsewhere in the show could probably benefit from this section being toned down too, as it makes them suffer somewhat.

However, there are other sketches which then win the audience back over, including a brilliantly observational sketch about Jack Whitehall. Ashworth stands out here as a very confident performer, he commands an impressive stage presence and proves himself an integral piece of the troupe. I also love the Bible book reviews sketch. This is so tightly written, yet its snappiness doesn’t compromise the sketch’s escalation. If anything, when stripped of other lines, the sketch’s jokes are highlighted more and put me in stitches.

For me, Loitering is defined by its signature flowing structure. The first policeman sketch serves to guide the audience into this, as well as being funny in its own right. This flow is then re-established with a poem that provides a great change of pace and continues throughout the show. Arguably, the sketches then lack a sense of finality given by more traditional punchlines, but I love the transitional nature of the sketches, and the frequent use of the policeman as a surrogate punchline is executed to a tee.

Loitering is defined by its signature flowing structure

The show also makes use of sounds, music, blackouts, and other occasional lighting effects, provided expertly by production manager Matthew Fox. His timing is spot-on, punctuating sketches perfectly, and this use of tech contributes well to the rolling style of the show.

The show’s writers clearly always keep their eye on the big picture, and clever use of callbacks and other structural devices in the writing makes for a very cohesive show. Some roles are clearly written for particular cast members, allowing for delightful performances. However, the cast isn’t typecast in the various sketches, it feels more like they each have a clear stage persona with which they interpret their various characters. This is really incredible and culminates in the wonderfully chaotic ending sequence. It lifts the writing by giving the cast an extra dimension, and I’m really excited to see how this troupe develops these personas as they write and perform more together.

Image: KEITH.

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