Pat Wilson

Pool Noodles: A Comedy Show is a hilarious, fast-paced and incredibly energized sketch show following the narrative of life-guard in training, Kenny Shallows. It has a wonderful combination of brilliantly unique sketches interwoven with perfectly silly puns and recurring gags leaving you laughing non-stop. The opening sketch, an upbeat musical number entitled “I’ve Got Chlorine in my Eyes” just perfectly set the endearingly absurd and increasingly ridiculous tone for the rest of the play and really got the audience warmed up and going immediately without hesitation. The basic premise of the narrative is original and intriguing, and it developed into the perfect amalgamation of classic play tropes, such as the idea of a quest, a father figure, a bully, a big race, that just perfectly mocked their own self-awareness, while also flirting with the idea of familiarity before they tore that down with their wonderful weirdness.

"They truly committed to the joke, escalating it from the expected to the truly bizarre and then, somehow, they kept going..."

 It was created and performed by Alex Franklin, Noah Geelan and Will Bicknell-Found, and I feel a large part of the show’s success came from the incredible dynamic between these three. Together, they provided the show with great life and vigour, as well as an attention to detail and focus that gave even the more bizarre physical comedy clarity. Their character work was also truly impressive and enjoyable to watch. Franklin’s little gestures, head movements and awkward smiles perfectly created the beautifully awkward protagonist, Kenny, while Geelan and Bicknell-Found were frankly stunning in their multi-roling. They had constant vocal and physical flexibility and range, snapping between characters fast enough to give you whiplash, but never creating confusion due to their absolute conviction and dedication to each character. Bicknell-Found in particular had a confidence and assurance on stage that enabled him to play off the audience and adapt to things going wrong in a way that made us comfortable to laugh along with him through his mistakes and make them just as much a part of the play as the planned comedy. Their timing together as a trio was impeccable, bouncing off each other and never missing a beat, keeping the audience on-board for the entire show. Franklin, especially, has spot-on timing, but is also never afraid of a good old awkward silence that added a lovely new dynamic of comedy to the play.

 However, the thing that really makes the piece so impressive is the absolute outstanding standard of their combined creativity. It is honestly astonishing; creating a form of grand-scale hilarity that I have rarely seen before. One particular stand-out moment for me was the creation of the mini-golf course where, not only did they use props and noises to hilarious effect, but they truly committed to the joke, escalating it from the expected to the truly bizarre and then, somehow, they kept going, getting more and more and more inventive. This was not, however, just limited to this moment – it was maintained throughout and I found myself continuously impressed (and a touch worried!) that they could constantly come up with concepts so far away from the normal and make each and every one so uniquely comical. Moreover, they lifted all of these concepts further with their engagement with the more backstage aspects of the stage. A particular favourite was the pre-recorded voice-over that they bantered with throughout which added a fabulous new dynamic of joke. Lighting was also used acutely well to seamlessly switch between the scenes, indicating changes in sketch or different parts of the same sketch.

 There are only two criticisms I have of this otherwise fully engaging and enjoyable piece. Firstly, the ending, along with perhaps one or two other moments, felt underprepared. This was a particular shame because the rest of the play had seemed so slick and so the slightly awkward finale was somewhat anti-climactic. The second point I would raise is that sometimes they found themselves a touch too funny. Most of the time, it made the audience laugh along with them when one of them made one of the others laugh, but occasionally the joke felt like it was limited to the stage and not extended out to the audience. This exclusion of the audience gave it an unprofessional feel.


Mountain View

The Bastardisation of Grief

 However, on the whole, the piece was captivatingly creative, impressively energized and frankly just very, very funny. They never let the energy drop and they drove through from sketch to sketch with wonderful vigour and had the audience in stitches within seconds. They had such vivid dynamic and range, and the premise was original and unique, although I feel like these three could take any average situation and make it brilliantly hilarious with their inventive ingenuity and complete commitment to comedy.