Review: Crazy Walls

Gemma Sheehan 17 November 2016

Crazy Walls, a collaboration sketch show between writers and performers Riss Obolensky and Henry Wilkinson, is a genuinely laugh out loud performance. Taking place post-rapture, it follows the pair as they first perform a short remembrance piece on the horrors of the reckoning in a manner resembling an Olympic opening ceremony, and then invite the audience into their bunker to see them bicker and reminisce about pre-rapture life.

At only an hour long, the pace is fast, and this hinders the performance to a certain extent in the opening half while the comic balance is being established. A couple of jokes and sketches fell flat, and this was largely due to mis-timings or lack of build up. But a lot is done to engage the audience with the performance: those not fond of audience participation, beware that this is a show that will ask you to act out the rapture in dance, hold lights to commemorate faces that were burnt in the solar flares, and (if you’re particularly unlucky) take on the role of ‘Lucy’, who’s just “really annoying”.

The show worked best with its extended sketches, such as the ‘elevator scene’. Here, Obolensky and Wilkinson’s strong acting as well as their comic abilities were on display, as they took us through the same scene in an elevator multiple times from the perspective of various office caricatures, eventually building up to the gruesome story of Diane. Some of the humour was a little too dark for my liking – the scene involving Henry’s Nan and a baby standing out in particular – but comedy in general this seemed a hit with the audience. 

The show transformed in its last quarter, with some of its strongest sketches coming right back-to-back. Obolensky’s ironic “Ode to the Feminists” from the misogynistic character ‘Big D’ was not only excellent comedy but an impressive musical and lyrical feat, and when we eventually got to see Wilkinson’s ‘party trick’ it didn’t disappoint – let's just say I’m never going to feel the same about Tiffany’s ‘I think we’re alone now’ again.

Crazy Walls is an innovative sketch show with lots to recommend it. A few too many quips didn’t quite hit and there were a couple of slip-ups with lines – but I can only see this improving as the run goes on. Obolensky and Wilkinson have real talent, and this is a show you shouldn’t miss.