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A Really Really Big Modern Telly at Ye Olde Rose and Crown

A Really Really Big Modern TellyStokes and Summers present an hour of sketch comedy shows. It is fun, energetic and inventive. They take a big swipe at modern day life and show us the ludicrousy of our obsessions with fame and social media.

The set is worth noting. Stokes and Summers have done a great job of giving a ‘razzle dazzle’ effect, with homemade placards titling their various scenes and an array of props. Behind them throughout, centre stage is a large makeshift television with red velvet drapes. Later, a projection appears upon it as Summers becomes trapped in the television itself and becomes the star of all her favourite tv shows. That most of the set has clearly been home-made gives a satisfying nod at the fact all the “glitz and glam” might not be all it is cracked up to be.

On finding herself trapped in the television, the star she always wanted to be, we find that Summers is in fact trapped and wants to come back to her real life. Amusing voicemails resume asking where she is. Her boyfriend wants to come in and have lasagne, her mum shouts at her asking where she is. She is invited and uninvited to a party. We see the mundaneness of her life, we are encouraged to mock it – but at least it was hers.

The characters the women undertake are hyperbolic and larger than life. Stokes begins the show as a posh, arrogant and ridiculous, self-absorbed man named Walter. This is based on the myth of “Narcissus” and we watch his deluded admiration for himself soar. He is a buffoon. He talks of his beauty and greatness, though he is nothing more than a fitness instructor at some sort of Butlins type resort. His socially inept friend Audrey eventually saves him from himself and they name their resort “Bridge over Troubled Walter”. Every line is delivered with irony, with the performers turning to the audience in unison and exaggerating certain lines so that we are all included in the jokes. They re-enact a montage where Walter falls in love with himself, singing throughout in a cabaret style.

The jokes keep coming and are punctuated with much enthusiasm and imagination. The two performers are highly collaborative. They link arms and puppeteer each other, they dance together. They join forces to become a swimming pool and are constantly in sync and bounce off one another. The whole show takes real commitment and they pull it off well, united.

There were also a couple of scenes where a middle-aged woman is called out on her over-use of facebook. Her fictional “friends” she has on there and the unnecessary polls she creates and embarrassing statuses she makes regarding her children. We also see a therapy session where the client cannot speak without trying to sell something or promote a great deal on a needless product to be consumed. These were short. The point was obvious – that modern society is saturated in what is subliminally thrown at us by the media every day.

But this is surely the theme throughout and whilst amusing, I am not sure it needed to be spelled out to us any further.

This is a promising act and Stokes and Summers do a great job of presenting cleverly written sketches which entertain and delight an audience. They deserved a bigger audience, where their larger than life performances might have landed better and created a similar vibe within the room. The sketches were good, but I would have liked to have seen different types of scenes with views on more issues presented, as the point became a little drawn out. But in short this piece did what it said on the tin, and I was impressed by the inventive ways in which they presented their ideas.

4 stars

Review by Freya Bardell

Gone are the days of leaving the house to be entertained. We’ve got something new, something the dusty stage and movie theatre can’t offer, and best of all, it now stars you“.
A double bill of comedy plays simultaneously celebrating and condemning modern life, sandwiched in sketches. An 80s re-imagining of the myth of Narcissus, and a contemporary fable, blending live theatre and projection, questioning what happens when the consumer becomes the consumed…
Double act Stokes & Summers take a long hard look at modern life through their over-sized comedy spectacles. Making retro entertainment with a contemporary twist, they invite audiences to collectively reflect on issues of today whilst being bloody jolly well entertained.

Stokes & Summers
21st-22nd June 2018
http://www.ftffestival.com/

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