Review: ★★ Two Little Women and a Stage, King’s Head Theatre

The brainchild of Amy Beckett and Tayla Kenyon, going under the moniker “Little Loopy Ladies”, this was an hour or so of self-proclaimed “odd sketches and bizarre banter”. In all honesty, I didn’t love it: I’m willing to accept that this may be down to a sense of humour difference, but this is a show which seems to cater solely for the amusement of friends, family, and the performers themselves. As the embryonic form of a sketch show, it was passable and shows some promise: it needs a great deal of work to make it into a slick, fully-fledged production even at fringe level.

The show consists of an opening musical number, then several sketches interspersed with performative scene changes and concludes with another musical number, essentially the first song with some different words. Both performers are in possession of good voices, accompanied by their director Michael Priestley on the guitar. Lyrically these songs are okay: they never quite catch fire though, and very quickly they become nothing more than the words “loopy ladies” repeated ad nauseam, reliant on wild physical gyrations for an injection of comedy. It is a bit lazy, and seems a waste of these performers’ talents – I would have been interested to see more witty musical numbers in this show. One place that could have done with more variation and spice were the scene changes, accompanied by the “scene change song” which is pre-recorded. The first scene change is funny, the second amusing, and the third tedious. The fourth, fifth etc. are best left unmentioned. These scene changes are another wasted opportunity for some more comedic action, and they drag the show rather than picking up the pace between sketches.

This malaise of repetition and drag is unfortunately also evident in the majority of the sketches themselves. For the most part, each scene started off promisingly in a variety of imaginative and less-so settings: a shopping channel, heaven’s waiting room, a chair-robics class and a witches’ interview were some of the more memorable. Energetic and enthusiastic to a fault, both Amy and Tayla are clearly very confident performers and they deliver their material with total commitment and verve. Particular praise must be given to Amy for some wonderful and amusing character work which, for me, was the saving grace of the majority of the sketches. Tayla was a commendable straight-man for the most part, with some break-out roles including a turn as Luther the Plumber in a casting sketch. However, there was an slight sense of self-indulgence at this moment as the performer seemed on the edge of making herself laugh: corpsing and near-misses can work in some situations in comedy, but unfortunately here it felt a little unearned.

The sketches work their way up to a peak and then run on, usually making the same joke or descending into a kind of madness that acts as a poor substitute for comedy, and then end: the show in microcosm. Physical exuberance and visual ridiculousness are not enough to carry this show, and despite the enthusiasm of the performers and their fans in the audience I was bored and a bit disappointed. The name “Little Loopy Ladies” is also infuriatingly infantilising, and I would suggest as such does the performers no favours. With some work, this could become a very competent sketch show: the nuggets of comedy are there, and the performers seem to be capable of more than they delivered.

Esme Mahoney 

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