Tom Worsley and Alice Marshall present a fast-paced series of sketches, peppered with personal anecdotes, looking afresh at boy-girl relationships. The stage is completely bare, save for props, largely stored in black dustbins, one on each side downstage, and microphones on stands, again one on each side downstage, which the duo had virtually given up on before we were even halfway through, on account of there being too much feedback, which proved distracting, particularly in a studio space where one could just simply project instead.
More than once in the show does the girl win over the boy by completely pulling the wool over his eyes. The first example ever was (arguably) Eve winning over Adam to eat the forbidden fruit, and while the Genesis story is explored, it is in the dating scenes where boys’ continual misreading of the female species really plays out, often with hysterical consequences. It’s quite a journey, from primordial apes to twenty-first century Britain – and all in one act. I very much enjoyed one scene where both boy and girl deploy their best powers of deception to cover up facts, and in so doing end up revealing the naked truth after all. A sketch taking various lines from different Shakespeare plays and rolling them into one conversation, such that it did indeed flow into a lucid exchange between boy and girl, was cleverly done.
One of the main difficulties in any variety sketch show that makes many different references to many different things is that unless the audience is already somewhat familiar with at least some background details, the sketch runs the risk of going over people’s heads. My only knowledge of Star Wars, for instance, is from the Family Guy parody episodes. Boys & Girls skilfully presented a Star Wars scene in such a way that I still understood what was going on – indeed, every sketch is impressively inclusive and carries everyone along.
The stand-and-deliver moments were best of all, however. I couldn’t deduce how much, if any, of these apparent real-life stories were embellished – if even one of them turned out to be untrue it would be a surprise. Conversational in tone, Worsley and Marshall’s reporting of key incidents in their lives were so engaging it was like being at a bar or a house party with them. I just can’t resist spilling the beans on one story. Alice Marshall once had sexual relations with a guy during a certain time of the month. When his flatmates heard about it, they decided to play at full volume a tune made famous by Leona Lewis – ‘Bleeding Love’. The show has as much subtlety as The Book of Mormon (that is, none at all) but it works, holding my attention throughout.
With some sketch shows, I have a good laugh but there are certain sketches I can’t quite get my head around. With some other sketch shows, I don’t necessarily laugh very much but at least I understand the narrative and the point that the show is trying to get across. Boys & Girls is that rarity of a sketch show that I could easily follow all the way through, and equally easily enjoy the jokes and punchlines.
There is something universal in the exploration of inter-gender relations and friendships (whatever our sexual orientation), particularly in this digital era. For all the technological wizardry including Skype and social media all around us, the story of Boys & Girls shows clearly that nothing – nothing – is comparable to the old-fashioned face-to-face human touch. This is a very bold, very enlightening piece of theatre, and I loved it.
Review by Chris Omaweng
Comedians Alice Marshall (NewsRevue 2014, Sleeping Booty! at The Leicester Square Theatre) & Tom Worsley (Comedy Store, Tristan Bates Theatre) embark on a bold exploration into the relationships between boys & girls, from the dawn of time, throughout history, to infinity and beyond…
They take on friends & lovers, sons & mothers, and angels & apes, as they “probe” into what makes relationships between boys & girls so tough, touching, funny and infuriating. Through sketches, stand up, and a pretty spectacular soundtrack, Boys & Girls asks the big questions: Can your dead mum hear your prayers? Do monkeys go on dates? And why was Henry VIII such a douche bag?
Boys & Girls is written by Tom Worsley, Alice Marshall and director Sasha Roberts, who all met at Bristol University, and have since collaborated on a variety of projects, including stage plays, sketch shows, and short films, and have amassed 2 million YouTube hits. Alice is a seasoned comedy performer and was a member of the prestigious ‘Edinburgh NewsRevue 2014’ cast. Tom is an experienced actor and stand-up comedian, and has performed in venues including Bath Theatre Royal, Theatre 503 and London’s Comedy Store. Sasha has done none of these things, but he was once in a pot noodle advert in which he ate a burger before being assaulted by three dwarves.
Tristan Bates Theatre, 9.15pm, Monday 10 to Saturday 15 August 2015
Wednesday 12th August 2015