As a small but excitable crowd filled The Winchester on Sunday evening, a sense of anticipation hung in the air of the first public showing of Man Feelings, hoping to make a splash at this year’s Free Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
As the lights went down and the crowd silenced, very few seemed sure of what to expect, bar something to make them laugh. This set of Bournemouth University Students have been responsible for plenty of great output in the last few years and the key figures this evening stars James Cottle and Kevin Kennedy, director Simon Kinnear and tireless producer Sam Hutchinson didn’t disappoint.
The lights come up and James is sat, alone. He pretends to watch TV, with no props, while a faint buzz floats in from the back of the room. Enter Kevin, in a stripy t-shirt masquerading as a bumble bee costume, immediately imposing a sense of physical comedy as he dives on the stage and proceeds to poke and prod his co-star.
From here on out the jokes come think and fast and the show, billed as a ‘two-man sketch show’, moves from scene to scene with no let up or as much as a pause for breath. The distinct lack of props or costume changes can make the show a little difficult to follow, the lights go down and the pair soon reappear wearing more-or-less the exact same outfits, but playing all new characters. However, the wit is sharp and the content is funny enough to keep you alert, the boy’s obvious character comedy skills providing just enough information to let us know that a new sketch has started.
It seems that these two have attempted to shoehorn every feasible comic style into a running time just short of an hour, with physical, musical, observational and absurdist comedy all fighting for prominence. On the whole, they prove themselves more than capable of handling this, but the show really comes in to its own when fusing smart observational comedy of the modern man’s ‘struggles’ with absurd and very funny situations.
Particular highlights include Michael Caine looking to fulfil a lifelong dream at a job interview, two caddish gents attempting to challenge each other to a duel and a fantastic new angle on the ‘injury lawyers advert’ joke that until now had been done the same 100 times over.
It is important to remember that this is a show at the beginning of its journey to Edinburgh, and is the first live performance of it. The slight improvements that could be made to production (props and costumes and the like) fade in to insignificance in the glow of two bright young comic performers delivering funny material that understands its audience and is sure to go down a storm in the sea of comedy on show at the Edinburgh Festival.