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The Leftovers

Tuesday, 31 August, 2010

Edinburgh 2010 – Just The Tonic @ The Caves – 7-28 August­­ 2010 – 15.20 (1:00)

The Leftovers is a three-man comedy sketch show which just about manages to pull-off a successful hour of laughs.

The show sees the three members, Simon Eves, Jez Scharf and Neil Waters, perform a number of skits of varying quality.  A continuing narrative involving the three comedians’ bickering and dreaming up ways to fund their visit to the Edinburgh Fringe ties the 60 minutes together in a fairly satisfying manner.

In a quirky opener the trio introduce feckless travel company Goldstar Airlines whose air stewards are under no illusions about the quality of service, or the avarice of their bosses .  Some nice surreal asides, along with a pleasingly high-standard of acting, promise much for the remainder of the show.  It’s a promise which they largely deliver upon.

A nicely-realised Tintin skit, imbuing Herge’s Belgian detective with a disturbingly dark edge, is followed by the introduction of the three actors’ comic personas – Si, Neil and Jez.  They are hoping to get noticed by a talent agent and resolve to deliver “the best show we’ve ever written”.  But it soon becomes apparent that some of their material is perhaps not quite up to scratch and that their ideas about what constitutes “the best show” do not always match up.

Simon Eves’ alter-ego Si is the stereotypical goofball – always getting the wrong end of the stick and winding up his two long-suffering friends with his obsession with dry ice.  But he’s still loveable and ingratiating, the key to any successful comedy idiot.

Neil (Neil Waters) is the highly-strung, slightly pernickety know-all who is left exasperated at every utterance made by Si.  His dreams of superstardom seem to be fading and he continually blames everybody but himself for his failures.

Finally, Jez (Jez Scharf) is the normal everyman of the group whose boy-next-door persona is brought into stark relief by the two caricatures she shares the stage with.  His role is to smooth over any arguments and bring some reality to his friends’ flights of fancy.

All three performers have enviably magnetic personalities and make the most of the material, often ad-libbing to improve on weaker segments.  The group dynamics of the comedy troupe are fully utilised to create tensions which crackle and pop onstage, leading to some of the biggest laughs in the set.  This is never more evident than in a running joke about the way their ‘Schindler’s Lisp’ skit is being performed.

There’s a nice mix of material throughout with plently of puns and off-the-wall humour, but also some nice characterisation and a fine line in finding humour in the confounding of expectations.

No idea ever hangs around too long to get boring but there are several weak links which threaten to bring the whole structure crashing down – in particular an overlong Sherlock Holmes parody and an interminable closing sketch which has seemingly been tacked on to bring the set up to an hour.

There’s more than enough to enjoy though and the performers’ sheer infectious exhuberance just about compensates when the inspired gives way to the prosaic.

Cast Credits: Simon Eves.  Jez Scharf.  Neil Waters.

Company Credits: Writers – Simon Eves.  Jez Scharf.  Neil Waters.

(c) David Hepburn 2010

Reviewed Monday 23 August

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