Junior Productions presents Birds: Pluck. Performed by Amy Spinks and Kate Novak, written and directed by Joe Reaney and Will Noble, I concur with the music of Eels played at the beginning: I like Birds.
When it comes to sketch comedy, I think there will always be moments that don’t quite work, some sketches that are best left in the rehearsal room, and Pluck is no exception. Having said that, the sheer amount of comedy that is relentlessly thrown at the audience leaves plenty of opportunity for the best sketches to stand out and the less refined to harmlessly blur away. There are a number that stand out from the crowd, a well-observed Indian restaurant sketch is worth noting, along with a job interview with someone whose quirks mirror those of an evil villain. The Birds are at their best when their sketches are based in the surreal.
Pluck is a great showcase for the abilities of Spinks and Novak, deftly jumping from sketch to sketch with barely a breath between them. Highlighting their accomplished talents as melodramatic clown-like performers, their accent work makes each moment distinct from the last. I think they could have looked closer at defining differing physicalities for their variety of characters in order to help avoid the sketches blending into each other, but their energy is contagious and it is a pleasure to follow them throughout their set.
There are areas where the pair can improve. I’d like for them to develop more of a relationship with each other, and the audience, as themselves so that we can get a feel for them as performers and become more invested in their awe-inspiring range of sketches. The time we do get to spend with Novak and Spinks when they aren’t in sketch mode often feels too rehearsed. Perhaps there is space to include some moments of improvisation and natural playfulness from them at the expense of their less perfected sketches. I think a little work on these moments would bring the show together and help it to feel like a more controlled hour.
Despite this, I am genuinely blown away by the number and consistency of quality sketches that they continuously produce throughout the hour, and the Matthew Horne moment is worth waiting for. In Pluck, the pair deliver their own brand of sketch comedy with astute observations of 21st century life, satirising overly-zealous environmentalists and overly PC wedding speeches. The Birds set out to prove that sketch comedy isn’t dead, and by the end of the hour, they’ve convinced me. With a little work on the out of character moments to help define this hour of comedy, they’ll have a fantastic show and are sure to build on their already impressive successes.
Pluck is playing at The Brighthelm Centre until 31 May. For more information and tickets, visit the Brighton Fringe website.