5:00pm Tuesday 26th June 2012
By Nikki Jarvis
It’s not very often audience members get the chance to tell actors exactly what they thought of their performance.
But every month at Brockley Jack Studio Theatre, playwrights, comics, poets and musicians get the priceless opportunity to test out new work on the public.
Through anonymous audience feedback forms given out during Scratch at The Jack, writers learn which lines struck the right chord and which jokes went down like lead balloons before heading back to the drawing board.
We went along last Sunday night (June 24) to see a diverse line-up of exciting new material, including comedy sketches by an ingenious duo on the brink of taking Edinburgh Festival by storm.
I love to laugh, and aside from Mitchell and Webb I’ve never seen a live sketch show.
So to watch Edward Rowett and Rob Frimston – aka Frimston and Rowett – almost flawlessly premier their hilarious new ideas was a genuinely unexpected treat.
These clever guys had everyone in stitches with their first ever palindrome comedy sketch during which they reached a certain point and then repeated everything backwards.
I don’t think anyone realised this had begun even before the university chums had slipped into character as a psychiatrist and his patient.
Every witty line was timed to perfection, with the sketch spiralling to insanely funny levels – it was incredible not a foot went wrong during this tricky first for the pair.
Another hysterical skit saw a well-wishing but ever-so-slightly inappropriate friend fill his bathroom full of owls (which killed each other as they prefer to live alone) as a birthday present to his bewildered flatmate.
Their lovable personification of the very innocent Ask Jeeves, who returns a perfectly clean photograph for the dirtiest of searches, sealed a triumphant performance from the duo.
It really is impossible to do this charming pair justice in writing.
Their top quality material is sure to do incredibly well when they take it to Edinburgh this year and I was delighted to hear the full show is previewing at the Jack on July 23.
Each performer at Scratch is given between five and 15 minutes to showcase their new stuff.
We also had the pleasure of seeing Elliot Barnes-Worrell, aka Band-it, and his hot-off-the-press one man show, which explored prejudice and intolerance in society.
He literally stripped back layers to warp into characters from different walks of life from a posh, mixed race barrister in overalls right down to a powerful woman in a dress.
I’ve never seen bigotry explored in such an original, thought-provoking way before – this youngster told us to prepare our minds for what we didn’t expect and it worked.
You could tell this show was a work in progress, but with such confidence and conviction, it’s clearly going to blossom into a memorable piece.
Scratch attracts some of London’s most talented and writers and every month promises a varied and surprising evening.
Adding to our night's variety was a new, rather sad, play Rostov about two gossipy cleaners, a one woman show about her true story of escape from life in Nepal and mind-bending poetry to music about drug-induced nights in Hackney.
If it’s a whirlwind of new and diverse entertainment you’re after, Scratch at The Jack is the perfect night out – and you might even discover your new favourite comics.
Catch the next Scratch night on July 15.
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