New Balls Please.

balls

Laura turns critic for the night at the Oxford Fringe’s new sketch show from Mullins & Gladwin…

There is something deliciously awkward about an expectant audience awaiting a comedy show. But there is something even more appetising about an expectant audience perched on the chairs of a Baptist church, the ones where the bible sits tucked behind the derrière of every spectator, just willing you to read it whilst you are waiting.

So it was amidst my education on the likes of Deuteronomy and Exodus that I was given my first taste of tonight’s comedic pair. It came courtesy of the kind of retro tune that wouldn’t have stood out of place on an 80s Saturday night sports show. The music teetered for a few moments longer than was natural, those extended seconds that comedians have revelled in since the likes of The Office and Family Guy discovered that audiences do like to be pushed past the extreme point of unease. I could only laugh… first serve to Mullins and Gladwin.

Behind their simple staging, the duo was kitted with a dress up box that even Mr Benn would have crossed mountains to claim, and thus we were treated to a compilation of colourful characters. There was the shop owner that had an insalubrious affection for the word ‘balls’, and the golf coach whose career goals were entrenched more in the West End than on the putting green. There were carefully tailored parodies of characters that even those who never even entertain the idea of sports-watching could recognise, such as the gum gnawing, talks-out-the-side-of-his-mouth, unresponsive football manager. Some sketches played with our sense of the familiar and the unexpected; a pair of boxers gearing up for a tumultuous game of tiddlywinks, and the snooker player who really is listening to THAT commentary.

It was with a shrewd wit that the duo took on the England squad’s notorious affection for the National Anthem, treating us to a dance that wouldn’t have been out of place in the Sadler’s Wells… here we had two performances for the price of one.

Mullins certainly tickled some funny bones with his love affair with a cardboard cut out of Jessica Ennis – if only he knew she was having another man’s baby – whilst Gladwin delighted with his uncanny impersonation of Chris Tarrant; it was all in the twitching eyes…

Laughter is without doubt the best medicine, and there is certainly no scientific formula as to its creation, but you might just be able to self medicate if you catch these two in action.

Catch Mullins and Gladwin in Oxford at the end of July for the Oxford Archway

www.archwayfoundation.org.uk

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