The Half-Cocked Sketch Show at Hen & Chicken’s Theatre

It’s a tad exhausting to watch, though the laughs come regularly. To portray various scenarios, Elliott Campion and Teddy Robson have everything required, with large props behind a curtain, and on stage, there’s a clothes rack, tables and chairs, and smaller props. This doesn’t quite make for breakneck-paced scene changes, and the dynamic duo are, during the performance, in miscellaneous states of dressed, undressed and overdressed. Additional opportunities for the audience to recover from a witty sketch come in the form of discussions between the two as to which sketch to do next, why certain sketches can’t be done, and so on.

The Half-Cocked Sketch Show
The Half-Cocked Sketch Show

Different sketches, as one might expect, appeal to different people in the audience. It’s been some years since I indulged in watching a shopping channel on satellite television, for instance, though judging by a sketch in this show, not much has changed, with over-explanations and demonstrations of usage of whatever it is they are selling. While the marketing gimmick of rebranding an existing product as something new just by giving it a different name might land a company in trouble in the real world, the exaggeration for comic effect is done very well.

Indeed, it’s best not to think too deeply about real-world applications for much of what goes on in the show. A particularly illuminating scene sees a couple of gangsters discuss subject pronouns, resulting in ever more ridiculous scenarios to demonstrate grammatical rules. Things are kept light-hearted throughout, though it is perhaps a sign of the times that even relatively benign putdowns have to be explicitly clarified as jokes. For the record, I couldn’t identify anything as being remotely offensive.

Scotland Yard is lampooned for having a seemingly inexhaustible budget for inclusivity initiatives, posh youths sporting baseball caps worn backwards might as well have been speaking a different language altogether, and a scene involving the apparent typical clientele who frequent garden centres strongly suggests that certain retail stores won’t go the way of Woolworths and Wilko any time soon. The show stays clear of politics, choosing instead to focus on common experiences, such as job interviews and television news broadcasts. It’s hardly groundbreaking stuff, but it is a good laugh, and does exactly what it is designed to do, sending the audience away more than sufficiently entertained.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

Half-Cocked are back! – Following a tumultuous hiatus, full of banana bread, Call of Duty Warzone and an alarming over-use of the incognito browser, we’re back with a ludicrous sketch show. Gangsters discuss pronouns, while depraved addiction plagues the country and is that Shania Twain I hear?! An eclectic, silly show, where fun is made out of everything and everyone. With previous work described as “somewhere tantalisingly between Joe Orton and The Young Ones”, we’ve been working hard to outdo all expectations, honing our skills, sharpening our whitt, drinking more, rehearsing even less and endeavouring to give everyone a good laugh. One thing we should probably work on is getting to the point a bit faster!

The Half-Cocked Sketch Show
By Elliott Campion and Teddy Robson

Hen & Chickens Theatre
109 St Paul’s Road London N1 2NA

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