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Sky Comedy Rep

Birmingham Rep


Birmingham Rep unveils the 2022 results of its collaboration with Sky Studios, Sky Comedy Rep, presenting new comedy writers with the chance to deliver their first professional work.

This unique opportunity is all under the guidance and mentorship of a pro development team and writers including Guz Khan, Meera Syal and Danny Brocklehurst.

In all 11 writers were chosen from the many applicants to develop their work and have it performed live over four nights. Comedy is perhaps the most difficult to craft for the theatre and the experience will no doubt be of great benefit to everyone involved. 

With the overall guidance of the Rep’s artistic director Sean Foley and creative director of comedy at Sky Studios Anil Gupta, the development programme gives new talent the much-needed spotlight to flex their writing and stage development skills.

The four short plays were all set within the confines of a park but the evening began a little awkwardly with compere Comedienne, Celya AB warming us up with her own brand of crowd work. After the initial introduction she insisted on striking up a dialogue with several of the audience members asking them some personal questions.

While most were compliant, a couple seemed reluctant and that should have been enough to move on but she persisted and seemed oblivious to the slightly uncomfortable atmosphere that was developing.

A paying theatre audience is not really the place to have this happen and I felt  for a couple who had arrived late and were made to explain to everyone their journey issues and relationship details just seconds after arriving in their seats.

The first was Twitch by Ed Amsden and Tom Coles. Mentored by Robin French and directed by Madeleine Kludje, it featured Duncan Hess, Kerena Jagpal . A father and step daughter who are at odds with one another, embark on a Bird watching outing to bond and heal their differences, when they see something more suspicious happening in the woods. The whole piece is a little whimsical if not surreal but got the audience laughing and set for the type of theatre we might be seeing.

writer group

The next was, Confucius says don't use f****** Tinder on a full moon. This was a rather bizarre short piece with a long title by Jingan Young and was mentored by Meera Syal and Directed by Sean Foley. When Tam Chong, played by Charlotte Brown, takes a knock to the head one night in a nightclub, the blow has repercussions the next day that seem to conjure up the spirit of her annoying mother, while at the family’s yearly ancestor worship ceremony. Is that a ghost or an illusion she asks. While it was certainly a spirited performance in other ways, it was actually hard to grasp what was going on and the final outcome of the piece.

The third and perhaps most developed of the plays was Hatch by Rob Carter. It was Mentored by Daniel Lawrence Taylor and Directed by Sean Foley, featuring Duncan Hess again with the very experienced Linda Hargreaves. It focusses upon two elderly strangers who meet in the park with the sole objective of a spot of vandalism. He wants to strike out against Generation Z, while she has the intent of revenge for her ex-husbands deceptions and failings. The pair skilfully crafted and delivered a nice piece with a very original but simple premise.

The final play, Desperate by Kat Rose-Martin, is mentored by Holly Walsh and again directed by Sean Foley. Friends Jess and Abby are one night on their way to a party, but Jess gets cut short and with no convenience nearby there’s only the bushes to rescue her. It’s a mad cap energetic play with Charlotte Brown and Danielle Phillips in the main roles, turning the event into a court of judgement for her public act and its wide reaching and damaging social media results. 

While all of the plays showed great promise in the writing, there was a tendency to rely on profanity to get the laughs and this showed a certain weakness as it was often redundant and at times unnecessary.

Set to be an annual event, Sky Comedy Rep promises to be a valuable platform for new writers to develop the skills and the Rep and Sky are to be applauded for presenting this exciting opportunity.

With such a diverse range and original works across the four nights, there’s definitely something for everyone and its short play format makes for a unique evening of entertainment.  To 05-03-22.

Jeff Grant


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