“a thoroughly entertaining ride from a highly talented team of individuals”
Marrying the everyday to the totally bonkers, Keith’s “Loitering” was beautiful, hilarious, chaos, and the perfect way to spend an hour.
Before reviewing the show itself, I believe an entire paragraph has to be dedicated to Keith’s unbelievably talented cast of five. With their own unique individual flairs, full of unbridled energy, clear delivery and a keen sense for witty timing, every member of this troupe fit together like clockwork. Phoenix Ashworth slipped into his characters with ease, well attuned at engaging with the audience with a knack at hysterical impressions, notably as Jack Whitehall and in the recurring role as the police officer, which never failed to gain a laugh from us all. Arthur Drury brought wildness and total commitment to all his parts, tackling a broad collection of roles with vigour and enthusiasm and constantly varying his performance from sketch to sketch, whether performing a solo poem about a bird defecating on his head or impersonating host of zany and bewildered movie characters. Christian Gale had a confident command of the stage – engaging with his co-stars and the audience with charm and wit – and a great flexibility between roles, especially at the end when he did a solo performance of four people at a disastrously spiralling wedding. Patrick O’ Connell flicked frequently between comically subdued and unstoppably whimsical, imbuing his scenes with total conviction as he jumped from passionate Russian to a zany personification of a lover’s heart. Isabel Lote gave the sketches a range of emotions, often contrasting the chaos with bewildered, judgmental or horrified looks and delivering lines with a brilliant deadpan tone, yet also able to immediately play up a sketch’s eccentricities when needed, whether she was a scolding mummy pig or a horny stormtrooper.
The sketches were a wonderful blend of the real and the absurd, taking concepts we’re familiar with and dialling them up to eleven. Kicking off with a scene of witches cooking meth and diving anywhere between the KGB, Chris Evans and Sugar Daddies, scenes ranged across a vast plethora of scenarios with a balanced variation of length and format, so much so that it was impossible to lose our attention or our laughter. The writing was witty and intelligent, yet unafraid to have fun diving into the bizarre, the best examples including a boy lying about his age to drink wine, a movie trailer for an unexpected cowboy flick, tongue-in-cheek parodies of rom-coms and stars wars, and my personal favourite, Peppa Pig where the parents go through a divorce. Even when the delivery of lines in some darker sketches occasionally felt too real that the audience were nervous to laugh, the team would quickly get us going again with a ramping of the energy and a snappy punchline. There was a great sense of cohesion to the entire performance, with most sketches linking to each other in some way, and this coupled with good pacing ensured the hour flowed nicely – something that student comedy can often underachieve in, yet Keith executed it perfectly. I also greatly appreciated the use of self-awareness and fourth wall breaks throughout the show, such as when the cast would refer to each other by their real names, or the police officer acknowledging that they had no way of bridging two sketches together.
The venue was a perfect fit, allowing all dialogue to be heard with total clarity and the nuance of the actors’ performances to be captured up close. The use of tech really boosted the performance too, from colourful lighting to genius, well-timed sound cues. Matthew Fox must be credited greatly for delivering this to full effect on the night.
Overall, “Loitering” was a thoroughly entertaining ride from a highly talented team of individuals. I can’t wait to see Keith’s future performances as they continue on this rocketing upward trajectory.
By Harry Threapleton
Photo Credits: Keith