Impressively dynamic and effortlessly charismatic, comedienne Bryony Twydle undergoes the most drastic of transformations in her one-woman whistle-stop ‘work in progress’ sketch show. Co-written by Tristan Rogers and intended for Edinburgh Fringe for 2017, not only is it a rowdy and raucous affair, but it is also one not shy of audience interaction.
Despite being a year away from festival presentation, Twydle offers up an already well-defined and well-executed ragbag troupe of personalities. We have a speeding awareness instructor; a privileged, but neglected, schoolboy; a sex therapist; a QVC presenter on their final broadcast; a business guru; and a fierce, bitter landlady. Each character is explored for comedic ends. At times, there is a distinct satirical edge. This is prevalent in the creations that elicit a stereotype – or at least a perception – that is recognised by the audience. Twydle and Rogers have done well to engage with that aspect and play on it.
Using the tools at her disposal, she pulls out two strangers from the audience for a sex therapy session and a scripted role-play. It is a satisfying and inspired set-piece, relying on the coming together of a compliant, co-operative audience and a well-constructed, fleet-footed set-up. It works wonders. The same sensation applies to the fickle, dead-behind- the-eyes QVC presenter, whose hollow visage is a mirror to the industry from whence she came. The escalating desperation of her plight and the realisation of the end is acutely well-observed.
In a parade of disparate characters, it is perhaps somewhat inevitable that some will pale next to the others. In this regard, it has to be said that the mermaid-obsessed and mentally unstable business guru is the one true misfire. That one quibble aside, there is a punchy sense of purpose for the remainder. Bryony’s face contorts, and her mouth spews out a fantastic set of accents. It is a collage that projects a delicious range and sets up a relentlessly giggle-inducing experience.
The caveat that marks this run of performances is that is a ‘work in progress’ show. It is a disarming statement, as it conjures up expectations of a rugged and clunky 45-minutes of entertainment, when the reality is that this is material well-honed, balanced and refined. Rough-shorn where needed, there is also no danger of this being a smooth, diluted and sterile collection of scenes.
By exhibiting the versatility that she does – from vulnerable child to assertive and spiteful landlady – Twydle revels in an ability to keep a room in rapt attention. She will surely only go from strength to strength moving forward. Her impressive, galloping progress is not only the sketch scene’s gain, but comedy’s in general. See her progress in the smaller environs whilst you still can.
Review by Greg Wetherall
Bryony Twydle (Funny Women Semi-Finalist 2015, BBC Radio 4’s Sketchorama, one fifth of award winning sketch group The Jest) brings to Camden her solo character show. Prepare for her warped, arrogant and overly-ambitious characters and the weird and wonderful world in which they inhabit. ‘Twydle demonstrates wonderful comic timing’ (The Stage)