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REVIEW: True Stories

A great concept which fell (very) flat

True Stories, a comedy sketch show about fake news, was based on what could genuinely have been a hilarious concept. A parody of the news and each media outlets' insistence on "truth" is an inspired idea in this day and age, but unfortunately it fell short of its potential.

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Photo credit: Michael Hong

The initial idea of satirising a news show was promising, but as the show went on, the sketches progressed to more and more unrelated and bizarre areas, such as the Father Crispmas sketch which seemed to have been bundled in purely to accommodate the (questionable) pun, and to bribe the audience with free crisps.

Many of the sketches were random, disrupting the structure of the show. Also, *spoiler* the forced audience participation in the penultimate news panel sketch ended up being arbitrary and uncomfortable for the audience – understandably so since one of them was supposed to volunteer themselves as the person responsible for Brexit.

It wasn’t hard to see that the show as a whole was under-rehearsed. This was accentuated by some painfully out-of-time lines that were- I believe- intended to be delivered in unison. Although stylistically ambitious, the actors could have more easily gotten away with improvising if they hadn’t had to speak in unison.

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Photo credit: Michael Hong

Confidence of delivery was an issue almost without exception across the board, which is unfortunate because a couple of the actors were genuinely funny, and more of the audience might actually have been entertained if the show had been more polished. The final sketch was admittedly quite clever and meta, parodying the future unfavourable review, but its knowing jokes about the actors’ need to frequently consult their phones for their lines didn’t detract for how underwhelming that was.

There were one or two sketches that made the audience laugh. Kit Livsey and Alfred Leigh were the main actors to tide the show over and carry it through its various mishaps. Most actors had a couple of funny moments, and some good comic timing, but these were few and far between. It was the lack of preparation and an inconsistent structure that let the show down, rather than lack of talent.

The result was that most of the sketches left the audience bewildered and slightly cringing at the continuous fluffing of lines and reliance on phones for the script.

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Photo credit: Michael Hong

Daniel Quigley’s quirky piano accompaniment cannot be critiqued though. It was the only consistent aspect of the show, and significantly contributed to the few jokes that actually landed. The lighting in the first couple of sketches was also great, creating a very slick newsroom feel with alternating blue and red lights, but this was conspicuously lacking in the rest of the show.

Overall, True Stories had potential but it could have done with a lot more practice to carry it through and really let the actors relax into their caricatures.

2 ½ stars