A Curly Night In, Short & Curly *****

Short and Curly

Comedy sketch duo, Short (Rebecca Shorrocks) and Curly (Paul F. Taylor) have one aim over this wildly eccentric, manic hour of mayhem; to prove (especially Curly) that they can act. Even as we enter their sweaty intimate space, Curly’s CV lies on several seats, an awkward list of his theatrical achievements to date! He appears to have an obsession with ‘the greatest actor in the world’, Kevin Spacey; and in the original sketches and monologues which follow, does his utmost to showcase all he has learnt whilst idolising his hero. Cue Short (and her brilliant entrance!) She acts alongside Curly in his wacky sketches but is also a trickster, trying to convince him he is making progress and receiving advice direct from the master himself! You'll have to see for yourself how this occurs, but suffice it to say, it's hilarious. 

The body of the hour revolves around a series of contrasting genres; a Western and a film noir, coupled with their more surreal creations, a zombie war movie resembling ’28 Days Later’, (complete with a startling quick change from gorilla to Doctor in scrubs from Curly) and my personal favourite, ‘Gone With The Wind In The Willows’, a musical involving an accidental drug trip fusing the two works in the weirdest of ways! The plot was a bit tricky to follow in this one, but it was a minor concern when amazed by the impressive speed with which the pair of them snapped through so many different characters; physicalising each role, showing off their singing voices, and adding accents. The characterisations were excellently conveyed, and the nods to popular culture pretty much universal enough to be accessible to all; though for film buffs there were a few magnificent gags thrown in, especially in the Spacey related moments!

The great thing about this duo’s organised chaos is the way in which they draw the audience into their madness. Curly is more than happy to get up close and personal with the front row in various dramatic capacities, though as a warning, you might want to bring a cloth to mop up with! The audience interaction has a wonderful way of making the audience feel included, and ultimately everyone is laughing at themselves just as much as they are Short & Curly. This level of shared experience I have seen attempted at previous comedy gigs but, until this one, never achieved. It's very clear these two love sharing their work both with each other and their audiences, and that generates a really positive, happy environment for the show to take place in. 

It would be all too easy for this form of prop based, wacky sketch comedy to have been pitched in a format for children, but Shorrocks and Taylor are way too clever for this and have created an act for the big kid in all of us. I, for one, am so glad they chose a more adult target audience. Their work teases the crazy side we are encouraged to mask as adults out of hiding, and I'm certain I laughed more at ‘A Curly Night In’ than at any show I saw at this year’s fringe. All that needs figuring out is how to bring their act into the mainstream!