Thursday, 14 August 2014

Lizzie Bates: Reprobates, The Pleasance, Edinburgh Fringe 2014

By Laura King

I am sure I am not the first to compare Lizzie Bates to a cross between Joyce Grenfell and Catherine Tate

The show opened with a bossy air raid shelter warden in Joyce Grenfell tradition ushering us into the Bunker 2 venue, which made for a convincing facsimile of an air raid shelter, telling random members of the audience off for imagined comic misdemeanors, amid some choice wartime references to add to the humour. 

Another sketch featured Lizzie as the overweening mother of a young boxer without a clue (a surprisingly good member of the audience) who donned boxing
gloves and subsequently turned out to be so useless that his "mother" had to improvise as an "under-12" to take over. 

The Swiss finishing school marm with an unlikely penchant for fast food who takes on her first male student (another surprisingly game young man in the audience) was nicely observed. 

Pathos and humour vied in the character of the housewife who had taken up residence in her garden owing to alcoholism, but in complete denial about it, as she inveigles her married elderly neighbour to join her in a tipple in her empty paddling pool, getting him into trouble with his wife. Echoes of Alan Bennett, I thought.

An inappropriate doctor's receptionist who makes the patients play games in order to be admitted to the doctor was also very funny.

My favourite character was the unstable high-maintenence office girl who takes over the leaving do of "John", giving her unrequited love for her middle-aged boss (the reason, it turns out, he's leaving) one last shot. 

My partner duly played along until confronted by one last surprise shock tactic.

Sketches were interspersed with manic dancing to bump and grind music.

Lizzie Bates has already been a Bafta Rocliffe comedy writer in 2013 and featured on Radio 4.

I am in no doubt we will be hearing a lot more of her. Five stars for comic acting skills, three for material from this reviewer.

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