Created by: Slightly Fat Features
Reviewer: Christie-Luke Jones
The Slightly Fat Show is a veritable Frankenstein’s monster of comedic silliness. A fourteen-legged, knife-wielding, beer-swilling hodgepodge of the most madcap bits of The Young Ones, The Three Stooges, Monty Python, and every pantomime ever created.
It’s also unerringly British. Slightly Fat Feature’s earnest and undoubtedly talented troupe are flying the flag for the kind of campy, posturing schtick that was once a mainstay on our screens, stages, and in our working men’s clubs.
To comprehensively list all the acts stuffed into this anarchic bird-within-a-bird-within-a-bird performance would result in a review of Biblical proportions, so consider this the abridged version. There are jugglers, unicyclists, lounge singers, illusionists, a sentient balloon playing the keyboard, and a plus-size gentleman stripping down to his Union Jack underwear next to a plucky, yet bemused child hauled up from the front row.
Everyone on stage is clearly having a great time and it’s when the cast can’t contain their laughter, or take subtle digs at one another that the audience really pops. Perhaps the biggest crowd-pleaser of the night is larger-than-life drummer/singer/actor/juggler/stand-up comic Matt Barnard, who wins over the Leicester Square crowd with his arrestingly self-deprecating charm. Barnard works the mic extremely well, poking fun at delighted audience members and even using the sadly half-empty state of the theatre to his comedic advantage. He also downs a pint of beer sat atop his head whilst juggling three machetes – as touched upon above, these guys are gifted performers as well as utterly bonkers.
Given the sheer quantity of acts on offer, there are bound to be a few that don’t quite hit the mark. At times the rough-around-the-edges approach negatively affects the overall pacing of the show, and the audience are left somewhat confused as to whether an act has gone wrong or is just part of the whole ‘we’re a bit rubbish and we know it’ bit that the SFF’s players are keen to get over from the start.
The show’s flyer is proudly emblazoned with the epithet ‘Comedy Cabaret Chaos’, but it’s when the chaos is reined in a touch that The Slightly Fat Show arguably excels. The sweaty, dashing-on-and-off-stage bits are fun but run out of steam rather abruptly, and are largely overshadowed by the more controlled silliness of the longer, audience participation-based sketches. Troupe MC Goronwy Thom lends uproariously nudge-nudge-wink-wink narration to a partly ad-lib panto tale starring elastic-faced Gareth Jones as the hero, fan favourite Barnard as the mustachioed villain, and an admirably calm and collected Turkish tourist as the damsel in distress. Jones and Barnard are just the right amount of over-the-top and reduce the theatre to hysterics with their machete-sharp reactionary wit.
The Slightly Fat Show is essentially a hundred or so minutes of seven talented chaps doing whatever it takes to give the audience a good time. It has the kind of honest, everyman charm that won’t fail to put a smile on your face at some point, but in true variety show fashion, will have you laughing, gasping, and shrugging in equal measure.
Runs until: 23 December | Image: Contributed