Failure: A Sketch Show With a Chip on its Shoulder

EMILY MARR is entertained but slightly underwhelmed by a sketch show that has a lot of promise but just misses the mark

Comedy failure hilairous horriffic irony pinata

Failure: A Sketch Show with a Chip on its Shoulder is nothing if not ambitious.

To write (and put together) a sketch show is one thing, but to have it ready by week one is surely nothing short of madness.

I was suspicious as to whether it could be pulled off and wondered if its name might prove to be uncomfortably apt.

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So here is the good news. Great writing, badly performed equals a rotten night out. But second-rate writing, brilliantly performed results in a good time, and that’s what Failure delivers.
Ted Hill and Patrick Brooks kick off the show with what is essentially a PowerPoint presentation, showcasing their ability to pun, as well as sticking in a few slap-stick gags for good measure.

And I did laugh, as did the rest of the audience. We got a rather willy-nilly blend of some good, and some not-so-good jokes but the cast’s energy and winsome self-deprecation meant that although the writing at times lacked real punch, the delivery was such that they (mostly) pulled it off.

One of the more bizarre aspects of the show was the recurrent appearance of Rox Middleton dressed as a piñata, who, throughout the first half, appeared in various sketches doing nothing more than shouting “piñata” and waving a stick around. Hmm; as Peter Cook would have said, “very satirical.” I wonder if she had perhaps invested in a flamboyant bop-costume that she realised would need to be used on stage in order to make it an economically justifiable purchase?

However, Middleton did eventually shed her colourful feathers, and thank God she did: Rox is one of those rare performers who seems utterly comfortable on stage, and is a real pleasure to watch. This girl was born to entertain.

Ted Hill is another natural performer; his foul-mouthed Doctor Who piece was one of the most amusing moments of the show.

However, for me the two real corkers of the evening were both delivered by Ed Elcock. His Harry Potter sketch was well received, and he serenaded the audience in the show’s musical finale with such charisma and wit that any previous shortcomings of the show were forgiven.

Failure is clearly a hasty and somewhat haphazard composition, and at times the jokes didn’t quite hit the mark. However, the cast’s honest and comical acknowledgement of these added to the overall humour of the performance, as without this the concept of the show would not have made sense.

Failure was very well-delivered, if not always well-written, and all in all, a very enjoyable and light-hearted evening of comedy.

There is a wonderful troupe of performers here; with a sharper script, they could be sensational.