Saturday, 11 August 2012


Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2012
Hennessy & Friends: A History of Violence
Live Review
Underbelly Bristo Square

It’s a little disconcerting when an mid-afternoon show starts with an anal rape sketch … even if the rapist is a finger puppet mouse. The reveal takes some of the edge off but it is clear this show is going to have some dark edges.

It rapidly becomes clear that there are no topics off-limits for the diminutive and sparkly Miranda Hennessy as she ploughs through sketch after sketch featuring suicides, abductions and bodies in bags – but my word she does it well. Hennessy has an irresistible charm matched by her costars David Seymour and Steven Shapland. The majority of writing is flawlessly funny and it is very easy to envisage a BBC Three pilot being commissioned off the back of this.
In fact some of the sketches seem to have been written for TV, the terrifying well -behaved child tormenting his mother with bunches of flowers and good grammar could have only been improved with the props and lighting a professional studio could provide. The James Bond sketch would have been complete if some TV bigwigs had secured the rights for the music, if for no other reason than to disguise Steve Shaplands miserable impression of Sean Connery’s accent.

Rough edges aside these are strong sketches and Hennessy has some fantastic original ideas. Even more recognisable themes have been updated, Victoria (with a V) is a perfect pastiche of the vacuous characters in Made In Chelsea. It’s not an original idea or character but Hennessy has a pitch -perfect performance and brings fresh life to a tired idea.

There are some set techniques, with Shapland and Seymour playing the unappreciated sidekicks but even this is approached with a fresh bite when the two decide to fight back.

There are some sluggish, questionable sketches, the weakest being a pastiche of Desperate Housewives as played by the Disney Princesses. Snow White overplaying the ‘Mexican’ card à la Eva Longoria wasn’t well executed enough to pass my PC meter. But this was one of the very few flabby deviations from quality, perhaps highlighted as it directly followed a much more entertaining parody of Glee featuring another non-PC take on the ‘Asian Kid’ done with such awareness and stupidity there was no doubt it was the cast who were the brunt of the joke.
Hennessy seems to have no strict style, which can sometimes lead to the loss of identity or recognisable voice for lesser sketch writers. She can swing from an observational piece about relationships to a surreal dance number featuring foxes without ever losing pace or direction.

Genuinely funny and well worth a watch before the TV execs start editing out the best bits…. or Shapland and Seymour finish her off.

Date of live review: Tuesday 7th Aug, '12
Review by Corry Shaw

Venue: Underbelly Bristo Square
Prices: £6 to £10
Show: Hennessy & Friends: A History of Violence
Show starts: 14:50

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