Review: Kenneth Watton's Bedtime Chat Show: Take Two

Kenneth
Image credit: Atri Banerjee

There is something inherently unnerving about stepping into a room and becoming part of a performance you initially went along to watch. In the case of the second instalment of this chat-show within a sketch show, we became active members of a fictional studio audience as well as observers of a parody of this prime time staple. The resulting confusion sometimes led to awkward tentative chuckles, although the insecurity of how to react in our somewhat schizophrenic position only added to the ever farcical performance.

First performed last February, the sequel of this one night stand was largely a success, albeit if the charismatic lead was not quite developed enough as a character to carry through the 90 minute slot at the Playroom alone. Although perhaps that was the very point. The seemingly weak, one dimensionally optimistic TV talk show host gradually fell apart whilst a tapas of guests joined him on the sofa and a hilarious severed head of a past regret came back to haunt him. Clad in a double bathrobe and sporting a knitted aubergine, Kyle Turakhia took on the role of Kenneth who, like any decent late night talk show host was a bit bumbly, slightly self-absorbed and suitably smarmy.

The array of guests, themselves well-crafted characterchures of the B-list celebrities you’d expect to see on a chat show, arrived from the offstage green room in a steady rhythm and it was the clever character formation and interaction that for the most part won over the Monday night crowd. Yaseen Kader was a scream as seal lover and manically pro-vegetable business man cum self-help author, while Bethany Hutchinson’s semi-retired, once successful singer ‘Siami Lee-Tomlinson’ heavy-handedly hinted at some sexual history with Kenneth which underlined the parody of the incestuous popular entertainment world so often tied up in itself. The outrageously accurate presentation of a philosophically ‘enlightened’ former boxer was delivered by Dillon Mapletoft, whose interview with Kenneth provided some of my favourite lines of the night.

Punctuated by some incredibly funny moments- including a tea lady taped in tens of spoons and Henry Wilkinson’s wickedly droll severed head– the show perhaps overused awkward anti-humour and could have been fleshed out with a few more punchy skits to break up a nonetheless snappy chat show format. The dark twist towards an absurd brawling conclusion was enough to remind us just how wonderfully ridiculous the whole concept of a chat show is and although I may have left feeling slightly bewildered, Kenneth… was certainly entertaining.

6/10

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