Fringe Comedy

Lorraine Wilson

Croft and Pearce are not themselves

Underbelly George Square





A Taste of Planet Caramel



HANNAH Croft and Fiona Pearce are remarkably fresh-faced to be billed as Fringe favourites, but that they are. The full houses are not only a sign that their characters found their way on to Radio 4 earlier this year, but also down to substantial return business.

The cast of characters has been developing and now many have the fully rounded feel that should lead from radio to TV. Like all good sketch comedy, it worked on radio due to the quality of the writing and performance, but watching the interplay between two, who have known one another since schooldays, makes every creation from the Geordie Brown Owl to the office temp waiting for her big break in musical theatre really fly.

There are few props and the most basic of costumes, with most performed in jeans and T-shirt, but it’s easy to see how they will translate to a full production. They are also smart enough to know which are strong enough to reintroduce at different points throughout the hour.

A slight rejig to place the opening sketch, probably the weakest, further in to the hour would have given a full house of stars, but there’s time.

Run ends August 28

ANOTHER duo, this time Henry Perryment and Joe Barnes performing as Goodbear, takes a different, more theatrical, approach to the sketch show.

To frame their rather inspired take on the universe - and their ambition encompasses all of that - they use the timeline of a single day. There are no blackouts, no pauses, and the energy never dips.

The driving force that gets us through their day is performance rather than writing, but the chemistry and understanding between Perryment and Barnes provides a genuine warmth to the sketches, from cyclists on a never-ending ride to the darkness of a rural Irish father telling his four-year-old daughter it’s time for her to leave and make her own way in the world.

Perhaps it’s the presentation – matching outfits of rolled-up trousers and bare feet, and a fair bit of running around and shouting, but it has an element of the good student revue. That’s not entirely a bad thing, but if the intention is to break into the mainstream, then the exaggerated performance style might be a barrier. If that isn’t the intention, then they have a guaranteed following judging by this audience’s reaction.

Run ends August 28

THE FREE Fringe is a vital part of the wider extravaganza. The chance to try things out – for punter and performer – is inherent in its spirit. There was something in the marketing of A Taste of Planet Caramel that was attractive, even thought it was billed as nothing more than sketch. It wasn’t just the promise of an iconic biscuity treat from Scotland’s best-known manufacturers, honestly.

At first sight, things looked promising. A trio with comic potential - two young men of average height and one of more Stephen Merchant proportions, hair coiffed into something resembling a troll wig.

Being an optimist by nature, benefit of the doubt was switched on during the first few sketches. Were these to lull us into a false sense of foreboding?

While their energy and commitment to a joke couldn’t be faulted, the choice of subjects was more miss than hit, including a bizarre Margaret Thatcher sketch by men who were clearly born after she blubbed her way out of Downing Street.

If the promise of a free Caramel Wafer isn’t enough to keep an audience seated for an hour, it’s perhaps time to consider their options.

Runs ends August 27