'Short and Sweet' review or 'Who do I have to kill to get a laugh around here?'

'Short and Sweet': An evening of new comedies
Union Theatre, Friday 18th March 2011
Written for Time Out

Union Theatre is staging a night of eight new comedies, entitled 'Short and 'Sweet'. The clue is in the title but most of these sketches are too long and too bitter. The dominant theme is death and  this ostensibly light-hearted event is packed with funeral wakes, cremation caskets and psychopathic husbands.

This preoccupation with morbid matter suggests a group of tentative, slightly inexperienced writers, keen to lend their work gravitas by killing off their characters. It takes a long time to reach the morose punchlines and the already thin writing is stretched to breaking point. The best sketches (and these are certainly sketches rather than plays) keep things light and rely on sharply surreal writing rather than over-extended and over-engineered comic set-ups.

A sketch involving a psychopathic husband worked less well

Tommy Kearney's 'Five One' is a pertinent piece about a politically correct bunch of football hooligans and kicks the night off with zesty dialogue that is rarely matched. Steve Lambert's, 'Tea and Filth', is also nicely observed and confidently written. Lambert lampoons the English reticence, as a frightfully posh couple tip toe round a husband's blatant infidelities. These two pieces are the only ones grounded in reality and are the most surprising and affective of the night.


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