Spontaneous Sherlock

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Monkey Barrel Comedy Club
Edinburgh
Thursday 28th August, 2018


The Fringe is coming, God Bless us all, & the Mumble dragon is slowly awakening, ready to spread its wings over the Scottish capital & breathe flames of burning criticism into the myriad venues like a Smaug over a Lake Town. What better, this reviewer thought, than to go out into the heart of Edinburgh & catch a recent Fringe classic – Spontaneous Sherlock – at the infinitely amiable Monkey Barrel Comedy Club. A big hit in 2015 & ’16, this particular improv party is about to make way in the public’s affections for a new kid on the block, Spontaneous Potter.

Gentleman: How much do you love John Watson?
Sherlock: Love is a strong word for an Englishman!

I was glad then to catch a modern classic, so to speak, before it was possibly too late. Before the show begins each audience member is asked to write a title down on a slip of paper, which is subsequently drawn from a hat & about which the tale of intrigue & adventure will be loosely wound. Mine was ‘Sherlock Holmes & the Lesbian of Doom,’ in order to amuse my Sappho-inspired lady friend up from Todmorden, but unfortunately another was drawn, entitled the rather apt, ‘Sherlock Holmes & the time England won the World Cup.’ From this catalyst the Victorian capers ensued, full of Austro-Hungarianisms & temper’d by smart interjections whenever the dialogue drifted offtime, such as the arrival of Einstein who was, we were quickly told, in fact a teenager!

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Great praise must be given to Jenny Laahs, whose authentic piano plunking perfectly set the mood for the action, playing away as if in a dream blossoming in some Victorian-era oriental opium den. Over her wee reverie of sound came the sketches, played out with perpetual effervescence by the fuzzball of energy that was Will Naameh (the Queen), Paul Connolly (Watson), Mara Joy (all the rest) & special guest Stu Murphy, who pulled off a quite demented Sherlock with the delicate assurity of his extemporizational genius.

Its simply eggnog laced with owl anti-venom

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Improvisational comedy, when its done well, is like an eight-year-old girl’s birthday party; where a gaggle of mini-hens strut about laughing, joking, & most importantly, pretending. The quartet before us oscillated between harmonious hilarity to confused nonsense-babbling, but it was all great fun to watch & follow. I must offer a word of warning, however; this show is heavily based on the Sherlock TV programme, & positively bubbles with injokery. But set aside & stood alone, immersing yourself in Spontaneous Sherlock’s silly seriousness is a splendid session rather akin to having a mind jacuzzi with bubbles, relaxing & frantic at the same time!

Damian Beeson Bullen