Life in a SketchbookBlink and you’ll miss it – Encompass Production’s staging of Emma Minihan’s Life in a Sketchbook (a play comprising six interlinking te- minute scenes) offers a voyeuristic and witty glimpse into the weird and pointless acts of ordinary, everyday life. Emma Minihan’s portrayal of life, in sketches, exposes the comedic futility behind routine frustrations, the laughter behind the fear and the little truths behind the, at times, suffocating modernity within which we exist.

Each sketch relies upon the audience seeing and recognising themselves in the comic exaggerations of scenes acted by us daily in the real, and Minihan stresses, ridiculous world. The Interview, The House Hunt and The Last Table are three scenes from the six-part performance which clearly reverse, amplify and parody those habitual battles which occur often in the daily grind. At ten minutes each the sketches do not, inevitably, allow for much depth, characters are more like comic stereotypes; the suited egoist, pushy Estate Agent and stressed worker on a lunch break, desperate for some peace, are all figures comprised of recognisable parts of everyday life. Life in a Sketchbook’s success lies in its simplicity; the characters are ready substitutes for members of the audience – for it is impossible not to recognise elements of yourself within the line up of colourful comedic portraits in each scene.

The comedy in Life in a Sketchbook is clever; the play looks at the subtle, the unseen, the presupposed ‘everyday’ roles which are played out daily by us and everyone else, amplifying them to a degree which then becomes hilarious, and even sometimes particularly poignant. In The Interview, Minihan mocks that The Apprentice style ego: “I AM the job!” a power-hungry applicant cries to the interviewer. Whilst in The Last Table, an argument over the last coffee shop table between a sporty fruit juice drinker and his fanciful latte-drinking opponent, becomes a fight against the establishment and the system, resulting in a hilarious semi-political battle for the right to remain seated. In the final, and funniest, sketch, The Sofa, a couple played by Owen Collins and Freya Parsons are so addicted to the television that they find themselves unable to move, until one last push sees them standing, and dreaming of a life outside the living room, but by then, it is too late.

Life in a Sketchbook is simple and short, and jabs and pokes at the social order without offence and with a brusque in-your-face-ness which could leave you resenting modern society as more than just a chuckling cynic. The sketchbook resurfaces between each skit reminding the audience that these sketches are just that, impressions and images of life in the modern age, reflecting the mirror back at the audience for an hour of honest laughter and genuine entertainment.

Life in a Sketchbook is playing at The Top Secret Comedy Club, Covent Garden on selected dates in July. For more information and tickets please see the Encompass Productions website.