REVIEW: And Then There Were Nuns

Lia Johansen-Villanueva was promised cocktails and an evening of laughter. The team behind And Then There Were Nuns delivered, and even threw in a lovely furry hat.

Comedy Pembroke College Pembroke New Cellars sketch show

There are free cocktails on offer at And Then There Were Nuns, but the gin, offered in the flavours of red or yellow, wasn’t the only reason I had a good time.

The evening begins in a facsimile of a garden party. There are flowers, and our three hosts, Robert Eyers, William Dalrymple, and Jamie Fenton, who welcome their audience with genial and charming conversation. And then, suddenly, there’s a murder.

The sketch show is built around this murder mystery, creating an ongoing thread which holds the more absurd moments together. Nonetheless, some sketches remain arbitrarily dissonant from the rest of the show, and, although thoroughly enjoyable, I question how necessary it was to pull the sketches together using the contrivance of the mystery, when there are already recurring comic motifs and callbacks which provide coherence on their own.

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Spooky stuff

To discuss the show without discussing its highlights and low points is nigh impossible, but as a dedicated writer of this, the pinnacle of journalistic integrity, I will endeavour to keep things as vague as I possibly can. This way, those who do head over to Pembroke New Cellars for an evening of wit and absurdity are not spoiled. Repetition in comedy is often successful, and the minds behind And Then There Were Nuns use it masterfully. The recurrence of ideas, from the formulas of entire sketches to minor characters or references which return later on, succeeds in creating moments of hilarity borne from these sometimes wholly unexpected or subverted callbacks.

Another aspect of the show’s comedy worth mentioning is the incredibly broad range of topics addressed. Purposefully absurd, Nuns takes it audience from an operating table in the Middle Ages, to the boardroom meetings that gave us those catchy Sainsbury’s basics slogans. Although the absurdist humour provides some of the shows finest moments (the sketch about space travel springs to mind.) I felt, at times, that the writers got carried away with their own surrealism.

But the true highlight of the show are Eyers, Dalrymple and Fenton themselves. Their portrayal of the different personalities which populate the world of their comedy never falters, and the ease with which they move from sketch, to sketch, to breaking the fourth wall doesn’t fail to delight.

As a whole, And Then There Were Nuns is an enormously enjoyable romp, complete with mid show cuddles. (Not everybody in the audience received said cuddles, but as the one who did, my review would not be complete without mentioning them.)

I thoroughly recommend it.

4/5 Stars.