Charlotte Hudson and Leila Hackett

While lacking in ""left hand punch"", Charlotte Hudson and Leila Hackett produce a good-natured and witty stage sketch show

archive review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 04 Aug 2007

It seems an unlikely pairing: Charlotte Hudson is best known as a presenter of Sky One’s decidedly blokey infotainment series, Brainiac; Leila Hackett was one of the writers behind Channel 4’s decidedly girly and ever-so-slightly feminist sketch show Smack The Pony. But together they’ve produced a good-natured and witty stage sketch show that, while it lacks the "left-hand punch" promised in the programme blurb, succeeded in keeping me grinning for the best part of the hour.

The show succeeds best where it emulates the slightly surreal, inspired silliness that made Smack The Pony such fun. There is a wonderful moment near the end of the show where washed-up Scottish singing legend Barbara Dickson (Hackett), is forced to do a dance that mimics the path of a knight on a chessboard, whilst performing a reunion duet with Elaine Paige (Hudson). Other sketches, such as that involving a medium who cannot divine any of the upper-class names of her upper-class clients' loved ones, display similar creativity.

On the whole, though, the ideas on display here are much more pedestrian. There is a recurring sketch in which a succession of historical women go into a hairdresser and chat about their problems, which raises some laughs of recognition and contains some clever lines, but which felt taut and old-fashioned compared to other moments in the set. If anything, it’s all a little over-scripted, lacking the spontaneity that can really make a stage double-act shine. That said, you get a lot of good comic writing for your buck, and a couple of highly skilled, engaging performances to boot.