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Sheeps: Live and Loud Selfie Sex Harry Potter review

| Comedy, Festivals | 09/08/2018


Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer & Reviewer

Despite the performers’ pedigree, Sheeps’ return to sketch comedy doesn’t quite match the sum of its parts.

Sheeps, as they announce after an enjoyable opening number, haven’t performed together in four years and this show is heralded as their triumphant return.  In the interim, Liam Williams has had fingers in pretty much every creative pie going (Ladhood, Pls Like, Capital), Alastair Roberts has made a name for himself as an accomplished comic actor (recently seen excelling in Stath Lets Flats) and Daran Johnson has showcased his writing talents on sitcoms like Year Friends.  In short, the three possess bucket loads of talent, but don’t manage to mop up as much laughter as they should in this format.

The premise of Live and Loud is that Johnson has got ‘the band back together’ for selfish reasons or – as the trio later sing – to “push your friendships beyond their natural ending so you don’t have to be alone.”  That sort of admission can sometimes serve to bring an audience onboard, but also risks creating a suspicion that the group’s collective hearts aren’t entirely in this enterprise.

Not that they can be accused of lacking effort.  In early scenes, Sheeps ditch their traditional slow pace for SNL-style delivery – alluded to in their all-singing, all-dancing palate cleanser.  It’s also evident in the speed with which they tear around the stage to take their positions for each sketch.  However, this is a nod to the way sketch comedy has gone rather than genuine reinvention, as they soon sink back into their more comfortable Two Ronnies-esque tempo.

At this better suited speed, they deliver some strong material: their admittedly overindulgent deconstruction of sketch writing is superbly done, as is the surreal scene set in a Dutch restaurant which I heard several people quoting from in the following days (“It’s for the hoog”).  But in various other scenes, Sheeps strangely struggle to execute a good concept (in sketches about Syria and Shaggy) or seem overly prepared to rely on their natural talent to wring laughter out of an average idea (e.g. the Dr Jordan Peterson skit).

That’s a pity, because the show contains some seeds of a very entertaining hour which perhaps may materialise over the course of their Edinburgh run.  To achieve that, some material will need tweaking and – more importantly – the trio need to show more belief in the stronger segments.  In the opening song, Williams, Roberts and Johnson announce – with accompanying jazz hands – that “We’re so funny and the show’s good!”  The first assertion is undeniable; as for the second, you suspect they’re still trying to convince themselves.

Sheeps are performing ‘Live and Loud Selfie Sex Harry Potter’ every night (except 10th and 11th) at 19.00 at the Pleasance Dome (tickets here).  Follow them on Twitter @sheepsofcomedy.  Review date: 4th August 2018.

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