Review: Bafflesmash Presents: Menagerie

Annie Mitchell-Gears 29 October 2014

The feeling of not quite knowing what to expect from ‘Bafflesmash presents: Menagerie’ only intensified as the audience filed in to some enthusiastically funky music only to notice a man sat on stage reading a book, wearing what looked like a cross between a cassock and a onesie. Thankfully, all fears were allayed within a matter of minutes, as the show proved to be a thoroughly entertaining mix of wit, animal impressions and the downright ridiculous.

‘Bafflesmash presents: Menagerie’ promises dolphins and reggae; and although the reggae is noticeably absent, the show gives so much more. From frogs to penguins, the sketches, whilst tenuously linked or in many cases not connected at all, manage to keep the audience on board thanks to a string of recurring characters. The best of these are undoubtedly police dogs bemoaning the squirrel problem and the lack of any dog reporters in the mainstream media. Whilst faintly ridiculous, the deadpan delivery ensures the audience can’t help but laugh, helped along by the realistic impressions of the ‘dogs’ giving themselves a good old scratch.

The show moves from strength to strength, from Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy, to two pilots representing the political left and right arguing over an engine failure in the left wing. The humour is often relatable too: the portrayal of a guy struggling to chat up a girl in a club over the music bearing striking similarity to Wednesday nights in Cindies. But the high point of the performance had to be a very middle class and possibly homosexual Jesus giving a dinner party that looked rather like the last supper.

Whilst many sketch shows lack coherence and can suffer huge variation in the success of each individual sketch, ‘Bafflesmash presents: Menagerie’ has the audience laughing from start to finish, with applause after almost every segment. Rob Oldham, Orlando Gibbs, Tom Fairbairn, Eleanor Colville and Jamie Armitage have great chemistry and do justice to a very witty script. I cannot recommend the show highly enough – it certainly brightened up an otherwise dull Tuesday evening and is well worth seeing.


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'Bafflesmash Presents: Menagerie' is playing at Pembroke New Cellars at 9.30pm until Saturday 1st. Get your tickets online at