Review: Bedheads

Joe Richards 24 October 2018

★★★★

There’s been a murder at the Bedheads Record Company. No one is particularly bothered about getting to the bottom of it, but that doesn’t really to seem to matter by the end of this silly, highly enjoyable sketch show, complete with its own musical numbers.

We open with a Chicago-esque line-up of five performers, assorted Bedheads employees, each with an axe to grind with the deceased. One by one, they give us their testimony, which segue into the quirky sketches that make up most of the show. These range from trips to the shoe shop with Mum to the shoot of a porn film written in iambic pentameter and are, with few exceptions, extremely sharply written. The sketches often consists the standard fare of Cambridge sketch shows, which are invariably at their most comfortable mocking middle class airs and graces. That doesn’t make them any less entertaining, however, and the absurd turn that many of the sketches take (and pull off) means this show could hardly be accused of playing it safe.

The five performers – Meg Coslett, Lottie Elton, Mariam Abdel-Razak, Jamie Bisping and Amaya Holman – who also wrote the show, clearly have a collective gift for the one-liner, as it was often the odd throw-away line, timed to perfection and delivered with relish, that had me laughing the loudest. There is much impressive comic range on show here, particularly from Elton and Coslett, who set their sights on country singers, Youtube vloggers and clueless secretaries, capturing each of the varied figures they portrayed on stage with energy and characterisations that were both wonderfully recognisable and bizarrely unexpected.

This is an ensemble that works extremely well together and, generally speaking, the more of them on stage, the more successful the sketch. The closing song-and-dance number shone through in this regard, slickly accompanied by Laurence T. Stannard, and carried off with a spirited set of performances that was a delight to watch. Sketches performed by two or just one actor, on the other hand, were occasionally lacking in energy; held up, perhaps, by some of the performers reluctant to breach out of one stock type.

The concept the five have devised is, of course, purposefully ridiculous and all the more enjoyable for it. It gives rise to some wonderful material, although as the show progresses the links between the testimony being given – the thread that runs through the evening – and the sketches that follow becomes more and more tenuous. That didn’t necessarily harm the comedic effect, but those sketches which tied neatly into the overarching structure were certainly more satisfying than those which felt a little shoehorned in.

Bedheads isn’t always the tightest sketch show but it is very, very funny and cleverly put together. For anyone who needs a laugh, it’s certainly worth going along.