Boys and Girls is a punchy, hour long sketch show exploring the comic facets of the myriad relationships between girls and boys. A two hander, written and performed by Tom Worsley and Alice Marshall, it trundles along with energy and produces a raw, but very enjoyable hour.
The show takes the form of a sketch show, punctuated with short bursts of anecdotal stand up by the pair, and the first thing that you notice is how much they pack in. The pace is high, the scene changes rapid, the debris scattered across the stage and the pauses between them rarely more than a few seconds. This not only brings a lot of energy to the scene, but keeps the enjoyment high, not only because of the massive scope of the choice of characters, but also the high octane, enthusiastic atmosphere this helps to create. The performers are sharp and crisp in their changeovers, and when addressing the audience, helping to keep everyone on their toes.
The fast-paced nature of the show allows for an extraordinary range of characters, each clearly defined. Each scene represents a typical situation concerning the relationships between boys and girls. Generally, this is represented through the subversion of the relationships of famous historical boys and girls, or unnamed characters playing out typical situations we can all relate to. This includes a great variety of scenes, from the meeting of Adam and Eve, through Joseph and Mary pondering the birth of a ‘wizard’ son, to Thomas Cromwell trying to mollify a beautifully childish Henry VIII demanding another wife; from awkward blind date introductions and confrontations about overheard gossiping, to a straight-laced 1940s father fielding questions about pregnancy from his daughter.
Overall, I find that the shorter sketches don’t quite hit the mark, with punchlines being somewhat predictable, or the scene appearing to finish abruptly. They are still funny, but feel underdeveloped. However, the scenes which are given more airtime, and introduce more fleshed out characters tended to be nicely structured and produced a series of funny moments in succession. The chemistry between the performers comes through stronger here, and allows them to play to the audience more. This is complemented by the anecdotal stand up, which helps to engage the audience and draw them into a comfort zone with the performers, which is achieved with great success, particularly bearing in mind how short the show is.
The speed with which they rattle through the scene keeps the audience engaged, and the energy of the performance draws you into each scene. Each of the many characters is clearly delineated and, with some great comic timing from Marshall and some wonderfully expressive facial expressions with Worsley, you are able to relate to each typical situation presented, while enjoy their subtle, comic subversions of stereotypical scenarios.
The show in itself seems unpolished, and some scenes remain raw, but other more developed scenes are genuinely ingenious and very funny. Each situation is very relatable and helps produce a communal, comfortable atmosphere, leading to not only laughs but also enjoyment. This, coupled with the fact that, somehow them both being in their underwear for the whole show does not feel uncomfortable, means you have a fast-paced, funny, enjoyable hour on your hands.
Girls and Boys is playing Tristan Bates Theatre until 15 August. For more information and tickets, see Tristan Bates Theatre website, Photo by The Camden Fringe.