Review: Broody

Rebecca Jacobs 23 October 2011


ADC Lateshow, 11pm

Until Saturday 22nd October


Describing itself ‘dark and moody’ gives Broody a purpose it has to fulfil: creating a comedy sketch show which makes the audience laugh, but also question why they are laughing.

And it did this, for the some of the time. The show revealed a brilliant awareness of its own theatrical construction, gently parodying its own set-up. There was a notable choice often to not use props, meaning that objects such as coins become fictional constructs. Ryan O’Sullivan brilliantly brought this to a climax in a sketch which made use of the show’s capacity to make the audience believe in the existence of an invisible object: the ‘lasagne’ which the father has cooked for his son turns out to be nothing but thin air; the son has been starving for days. This was the unsettling nature of Broody – it asks us to question what our eyes have been telling us all along. When Chester goes to beat up a seven-year-old girl (Wnek), she is replaced by a stuffed doll so fast that it takes a moment for the audience to realise that there has been a swap. And even then, the continuation of the sketch as if Wnek herself had indeed been physically abused – ‘Ow, that hurt!’- makes us wonder at the fallibility of vision, just as it makes us question the ‘correctness’ of our laughter.

Broody is an interesting hybrid, cleverly fusing the bizarre with the ordinary. We are shown the relatable – such as an (initially) almost Sex and the City-esque first date sketch – but versions which unsettle us through voice-overs which give us entry into the characters thoughts. This sketch also showcased another aspect where the show was successful: the recurrence of motifs. George Pott’s ‘relaxed face’ – which makes all who view it believe he is on the brink of suicide – recurs repeatedly, each instance framed in a scenario where Potts regains normal behaviour in a split second. Broody combines variety with a sense of itself as a whole.

Yet such excellence came and went as quickly as Pott’s sad face. Broody’s downfall was inconsistency, merging the subtle and brilliant with the obvious and clunky. Some of the scenes drag on without the substance to support their continuation. The sketch where a man discovers the passivity of his wife is in fact due to her being dead, had a tendency to repeat the punch line – ‘your wife is full of maggots!’ – suggesting that the scene itself was not convinced of its own ending.

Does Broody represent a show that is both dark and funny? It suffers, perhaps, from trying too hard, so that some sketches become overworked. Yet some of the ideas, for example the CD of the ‘Sound of Monopoly’, are wonderfully weird; and it manages to develop a humour that contributes to its ‘moodiness’ and a darkness that adds to the comedy – a difficult thing to achieve. The quality of the sketches is inconsistent, but Broody shows awareness both of itself as a theatrical construct and makes us aware of our position as onlookers. And we look on with laughter.

Rebecca Jacobs