A sketch group with natural funnybones and a solid debut hour
Well here’s a show with plenty of spark to it. Massive Dad – Tessa Coates, Stevie Martin and Liz Smith – are a dynamic trio making their full debut at the Fringe, and a thoroughly fresh-faced thing it is too.
The show zips by on their charismatic performances, and there are plenty of highlights, though only one that you could say is brilliant. That one is their radio wartime broadcast, in which only one of the three has arrived on time, and is muddling through trying to make amends for her absent colleagues. Aside from being a bright idea, is expertly performed, especially by Coates.
Elsewhere, as you might expect from a new sketch act, there’s an orthodoxy to the ideas – such as the Coen Brothers’ grandparents who, it turns out, are the brains behind the films. The same goes for the middle-class mums making a hash out of splitting a bill (which is also the sort of roaringly Radio 4 idea that is the bane of sketch comedy). This feels like well-trodden ground.
But even in these slacker moments, they’re quick-fire, playful interaction and the quality of their performances make them worth watching.
It’s when they’re not doing the sort of sketch that sketch acts do that the show begins to take off. Hats off to whoever thought of performing a musical where they don’t have permission to the tracks (and there’s some excellent 1950s wise-cracking in-between the “songs”), and a special mention also for the sketch about the theatre group who visit schools to piously and extravagantly educate kids about three wildly different subjects. This skit alone is a great showcase for their stage skills.
They’re not the finished product, but Massive Dad have funnybones and already know how to put on a fun hour of comedy.
Review written by Paul Fleckney