Friday, 22 January 2021

REVIEW: The Noise Next Door for the Living Record Festival Online

The Noise Next Door Comedy LockIn has been a popular feature of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival at the Pleasance Courtyard and we have been a regular visitors over the last few years so having missed the 2020 edition it was great to see them included in the Living Record Festival. As with all improv, the success of each sketch is as dependent as much on the quality of the suggestions from the audience as the abilities of the comics to interact with each other in the theme. The usual foursome often use technology in their shows including a camera roaming around the bars of the courtyard so it was expected that they would attempt to incorporate it in the online version.  

However the technology of delivery created the first barrier to their success as having waited 10 minutes on the Living Record site link watching a countdown when the start time arrived it proved very hard to get into the zoom call, taking 10 minutes before we eventually accessed the call. Not as bad as one customer who only arrived in the last five minutes of the hour-long show! 

It meant we missed the introduction and an explanation of why the usual four comics were reduced to three on this show, Matt Grant in a green tie, Tom Livingstone in a green jacket and Robin Hatcher in green trousers. It meant that the first sketch was incomprehensible and when it ended up on the Titanic we feared the worse for the show. The second sketch attempted to give Robin all his lines directly from the audience via his phone as his two colleagues played Crazy Golf with him but it just did not work and the result was unfunny and weak despite them congratulating the audience on their wonderful suggestions! 

The show burst into life with the next two sketches with well-practised structures that allowed them to relax and enjoy themselves. Tom was a security guard trying to recognise two passengers seeking to board a plane to Jamaica. This sketch, reminiscent of the Whose Line is it anyway Party sketch, worked very well with excellent visual comedy and parody. The next sketch also worked very well with Robin and Tom playing a Rumanian interpreter with each saying one word each in turn to spell and explain words offered by the audience. Well practised in its delivery and with some good suggestions from the audience including filibuster, Banana-man and Helter Skelter this too worked very well to raise laughs.

As they pointed out, it is very different performing this type of comedy in this way than with a full house late-night audience at Edinburgh as they can only respond to each other's laughs and the last three sketches all seemed to suffer from a lack of shared response. The jokes about various suggestions walking into a bar seemed laboured, the sketch about a Hollywood director making a film about sexy sushi seemed overlong and the improved song to an audience member Sarah would have been funnier if we could have seen her reaction. 

Improv is a unique comedy form and requires quick thinking sharp performers bursting with energy and ideas and we know Robin, Matt and Tom can deliver brilliant routines in front of a live audience at Edinburgh and showed in glimpses what they are capable of in this show. However, the technology and structure of the zoom call seemed to inhibit them and the comedy was more hit and miss than usual. It won't stop us returning to see them at the next Edinburgh Festival but left us disappointed in front of the TV screen.

Review by Nick Wayne

Rating: ★★

Seat: Online | Price of Ticket: £10
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