We don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s an awful lot of comedy performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Like, really quite a lot. Amidst a tidal wave of sketch and stand-up, it can be hard to find the diamonds in the rough, the shows which truly are worth watching. Fortunately, we spoke to the right people whilst flyering on the Royal Mile, and ended up watching the gut-and-brain-busting Bears from the St Andrews Revue.
Bears holds an unlikely premise for a sketch comedy show: there is actually a narrative, albeit a minor one, about the Revue being held hostage in some kind of barbaric, late-stage capitalist dystopia wherein they are subject to frequent brainwashing in the form of sketches. Best to get the negative elements out of the way initially and declare that this was the weakest part of the show, with not quite enough clarity to sustain momentum for such a variety of sketches, but it is a minor point when considering how well-executed the sketches themselves are, largely due to the amazing chemistry of the cast.
The thing that holds most comedy back is confidence, the very thing which the Revue have in spades. At points, I felt like I was watching a sketch troupe who had already made the big shot rather than a university group (that being said, the Revue have been coming to the Fringe for eight whole years). Indeed, each sketch is performed with such self-assuredness that the audience cannot help but fall in love with the antics, be it horny suicidal pandas or a threesome gone wrong. Each of them, too, revolves around the idea of perception (this may be unintentional, which makes it all the smarter); without delving into the territory of spoilers, every sketch skewers either the audience’s or the character’s perception of what’s going on. After all, they, whoever they may be, say great comedy is all about misdirection. In this sense, the St Andrews Revue have already got the formula nailed.
The St Andrews Revue Presents: Bears! is performing at Assembly Hall at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe until August 25th. If you’re on the lookout for impeccable sketch comedy, Binge Fringe could not recommend Bears! highly enough.