Telly Visions: A Sketch Show promises to bamboozle its audience with 'random stuff'. The opening of the show, involving a cast sporting hippopotamus heads, sets the premise for a production as weird as it is witty.
My main concern about a sketch show built upon allusions to popular television and cinema was that it would be too niche, alienating audience members who didn't understand all the references. While some confusion is inevitable, sketches involving Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Blue Peter keep the content accessibly mainstream
Unusually for a sketch show, time and effort has been put into creating an attractive set, which helps the performers to maintain the cohesion of every sketch being an extract from a film, television episode or advertisement. There are some that don't quite fit into this theme – mostly those that directly reference the University – which nonetheless compensate for their randomness by being relatable. In the most part however this theme brings the show together, amalgamating a series of sketches into a cohesive performance.
There were moments when the audience rumbled with delighted laughter- most notably during Ben Walsh's genius Severus Snape impression, and Jonathan Beilby's easy interaction with the audience. The various impressions are cleverly used to enhance sketches already funny in their own right, rather than simply being brought out as a party piece.
Audience participation is strong, and one of the funniest 'television programmes' by far involves several audience members playing a game – allowing Beilby to show off his ability to improvise as he engages with and gently ridicules audience members.
Many of the jokes and references are very clever – a 'BBC News' bulletin is jam-packed full of witty puns, and a take-off of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? leaves the audience shaking with laughter. A few sketches leave only a smattering of applause as the lights go down, a couple of which are quite simply not funny enough. The plot of one in particular stands out as being more pitiful than amusing, but there are several which are marred by a misjudged ending. These sketches have a hilarious punchline, but rather than allowing this to delight the audience as the lights drop, the performers continue the sketch with a weaker joke, leaving a sense of anti-climax hanging in the air.
This performance could be smoother. It lacks a sense of finesse, and some sketches definitely need to be cut. But it is more than made up for by clever puns, genius impressions and hilarious audience interaction.
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Telly Visions is on at the ADC, 11pm until tonight. Get your tickets online at https://www.adctheatre.com/whats-on/comedy/telly-visions-a-sketch-show.aspx