Comedy on Zoom is something I have rarely dipped into: mainly because I feel it often needs that audience interaction and group mentality to be effective.
However, Northern Comedy Theatre (based in Merseyside) have followed an amazing run of digital performances in 2020 with a sketch show to mark Valentine’s Day and love in lockdown; although not every piece fully works, this proves to be an amusing enough fifty minutes.
A hard-working cast of nine (directed by Shaun Chambers and script edited by David Spicer) bring us material which fits in with the isolation and technological themes in which we find ourselves. Inevitably, some performers have more time to shine, given the time constraints.
First up is a speech from “10 Downing Street” which brings in Brexit and the inevitable paperwork associated with expressions of love. It is the only direct reference to the pandemic in the show (my husband said “not bloody Covid!”) and thankfully doesn’t present a direct imitation of our bumbling PM.
If you are jaded by the constant government briefings (and who isn’t?) there are bunnies, beans, a disastrous sexting exchange (with hilariously inappropriate use of a classic song), and a set of wildly off date match videos of the kind you may remember from Smack the Pony twenty years back.
This show is about love, separation and relationships with a blackly comic slant at times: a hapless radio DJ receives awkward calls not once, but twice; a set of disturbing Tinder messages are purred over in Jane Austen style; a woman finds her best pal is herself.
It is a piece to enjoy as singletons or a couple,. Fully infused with the deadpan Northern wit I appreciate as a Lancs lady. The material feels a little rough at times, but when things click and the company run with it, you do have a giggle.
A nod to the cast: Natasha Agarwal (Austenesque friend), Elliot Bailey, Kathryn Chambers (multi Zoomer), Vikki Earle (bunny girl), Rob Hardie, Robert Stuart Hudson, Kieran Maleedy, Lauren Molyneux (Domme dater), and Connor Simkins.
Valentine’s Sketch Show runs until 19 February at various times – book here for £10.
Other shows from Northern Comedy Theatre can be viewed at https://www.scenesaver.co.uk/company/the-northern-comedy-theatre/