The Mexican Standoff

The Mexican Standoff lives up to its interminable Facebook campaign, wielding more than guns, tacos and tequila for RHONDA NICHOLL.

Ali Lewis Jonny Lennard Margot de Sade Newnham Old Labs Pierre Novellie Rhonda Nicholl

Newnham Old Labs, 27th February-1st March, 8.00pm, £4

[Rating: 4/5]

Tension characterises The Mexican Standoff: Think guns, peril, and a resilient refusal to surrender. Think Tarantino at his Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction or Kill Bill best. It all sounds a bit edgy and dangerous, right? Now replace that palpitating image with three guys in Newnham Old Labs on a Sunday night. We may not be in Mexico anymore, but it was a damn good opening show for Pierre Novellie, Jonny Lennard and Ali Lewis, and boasted an impressive crowd despite the obscure location. Most audience members appeared like tumbleweed across Newham gardens; perhaps a darkly considered ploy designed to fuel the tension of The Mexican Standoff.

This is a sketch show that thankfully isn’t sketchy. The Mexican Standoff– like Margot de Sade– seems to be one of those shows that guarantees its own success before it has even begun, thanks largely to viral Facebook campaigning; Newsfeeds were plagued with updates, videos, and photos in the months running up to the event. There is an element of risk to this strategy, of course, and I detected a whiff of desperation at the very start as the performers fought to meet the high expectations set by the hype. This didn’t last longer than a  minute, though, and the publicity is just a testament to how much preparation the trio must have put into the show.

There was heaps of material for such a short slot, but instead of being ‘crammed into an hour’ it was surprisingly slick and seamless, complimented by clever segues between the sketches. There was an impressive range of comedic styles, with such diverse impressions as Mr Muscle: ‘I’m contractually obliged to love the jobs you hate’ and Al Gore: ‘I’m planting pencils to offset my carbon footprint’. The mime was so original that it didn’t make you want to curl up and die. The audiovisuals were consistently impressive.

Special mention must go to the Cheryl Cole malaria memorial mimicry which was quite simply brilliant.

The Mexican Standoff presents more than tequila and tacos. Sure, there are the guns and the obligatory swaggers, but this is a show that displays a grand array of characters,  morphing into a slightly disturbing multicultural montage as the night progressed. There’s a bit of something for everyone: even if you ‘hate’ comedy, you’ll like this. My ultimate message is that more than anything, I guarantee it will leave you wanting impromptu Art Attacks to flourish over the lawns of Cambridge (note to The Mexican Standoff – please make viral Facebook campaigns for that).