‘Prepare to be underwhelmed’ was how Southwick Players’ Just For Laughs 3 was introduced at The Barn Theatre.
Sadly, they set themselves up for a fall there, because actually it was a bit underwhelming.
“If mundane banality is your thing, then you won’t be disappointed,” came the booming voice over a sadly rather depleted audience last night.
And yes it was a bit mundane and banal, interspersed with a little adult-only humour that was a bit too much for me.
To be fair, there was a very strong cast of 19 and some really brilliant moments.
But the overall effect on opening night was that it did not quite gel.
The links between sketches and songs were too long and in many cases, the punchline needed some kind of musical cue because it was not always easy to hear.
Things did improve in Act Two, so I am sure by Saturday, things will become much slicker.
Sharon Churchill was one of the stars of the show, giving us two lovely solo numbers, a reworked version of Memory and Diva’s Lament.
She also portrayed Catherine Tate’s character Nan well in a sketch from the BBC sitcom, which ended Act One nicely.
Mark Best was brilliant, as ever, and his role in The Management, taken from Hale and Pace, was perfect for him.
Steve Emery did an excellent skit as Tommy Cooper and his Scottish number with Ron Common, The Gooley of Kirk Douglas, was one of the highlights.
Jamie Collins made an amiable compère and his reading from Fifty Shades of Grey was another highlight. Yes, he really did read an excerpt from the book, which seemed a bit of a strange thing to do, until he repeated it with different accents and lo and behold it did become really quite funny.
H Reeves was actually quite terrifying in The Day Today, though I obviously would feel for the poor young reporter who could not do a thing right.
With H, of course, you much watch his face – it brings more than words ever can ton a sketch, as proven in The Few and The Very Few!! with Julian McDowell.
With sketches like these, you need the incidental laughter, so, overall, a bigger audience would have helped. On opening night, the majority sat on the rake, with just a few spattered around the stalls, and that gap was difficult to cross. At least there was a lot there, so something for everyone.
Performances are tonight and Saturday at 7.30pm. Tickets £11 from the box office on 01273 597094 or on the door.