18 June 2014, Varsity Online Theatre Section
Sheeps uses the increasingly common format whereby individual sketches are simply a part of an overall story. For a show that is said to be a sketch show, the actual performances often become more like a play or improv session, and the sketches themselves are rarely the highlights of the show.
The comedy trio cannot be thought of as staggeringly original, and follow the typical line up we have come to expect from this type of show: there is a loveable, bumbling dimwitted one in the form of Daran Johnson, Liam Williams acts as the bumbling, but slightly less dimwitted one, and bringing the predictable trio to an end is Alistair Roberts, the long-limbed, socially awkward and wildly politically incorrect one.
With only a mop and chair on the stage for company, the performers take their places to tell the audience that they have accidently booked Wembley Stadium and are previewing and testing their material. The show then transpires to become a series of sketches being “tried out” on the audience – the joke being that the few sketches they have meticulously crafted are still in need of rewrites. Comedy ensues as the performers bicker, tiff and squabble amongst themselves over sketch ideas and punchlines.
The gags between the performers are undoubtedly the triumph of this show. All three manage to convey their petty irritations and annoyances with each other’s stereotypical behaviour and beliefs that the god-awful line they have tried before will finally work. They are able to rift and grapple seamlessly with their fellow Sheep in such a way that often makes it feel like an indecent viewing for the audience members.
I won’t deny that I did laugh several times during the performance. Indeed, the audience were coaxed into moderate chuckling throughout even the most awkward sketches, these chuckles becoming full laughs when the Sheep reached their hysterical punchlines, at which the trio appear to be particularly skilled.
The problem is that on leaving the theatre, I came to realise that writing this review was going to be rather difficult – the show as a whole was completely forgettable. It already felt as though it were something I had seen at the Fringe on several occasions. The direction of the play and its final denouement were groan-inducingly predictable and, although Sheeps presented an enjoyable evening out, it was neither an original nor a particularly memorable one.