Edinburgh Fringe review: Gein’s Family Giftshop, Volume 1
The Pleasance Attic is an intimate little room. Two rows of seating in which the front row audience members sit about a metre or two from the performers in from of them, who are given just a small patch of stage to work with.
Gein’s Family Giftshop use every inch of it, and with such intensity it’s a miracle they don’t slip on the puddles of sweat that pour off them, as they blast from sketch to sketch in the warmest venue at the festival.
In a venue such as this, it’s key that the performers are able to keep the audience drawn in so as not to create an awkward atmosphere. Luckily for the audience at Gein’s shows, the three players are all tremendous actors and the sketches come thick and fast.
Easily the biggest feather in the Gein’s cap is the dramatic ability of its cast. The three have a wonderful chemistry and give genuinely powerful performances for such silly material. The audience is fully on board for every sketch, sucked in by the acting chops of the trio. For a second, I genuinely considered that James might be the devil, that Kath might be homicidal and that Ed might be pregnant.
With the small stage space available, it’s truly impressive what Gein’s are able to accomplish with just three chairs. The turnaround between each sketch is near flawless, as each performer knows their role in moving props and starting a scene.
With the audience being so close, the physical comedy on offer, particularly from Ed, the poor bugger, is a joy to behold. Ed crashes to the floor on numerous occasions with a heart, committed thump. As he lays crumpled there’s always a genuine fear he might be hurt, such is his ability as a clown.
The sketches themselves are for the most part, excellent and varied. There are sketches with shock value, sketches that last a few seconds and sketches with a drawn-out story. The trio are at their best in the running sketches. The callbacks to previous sketches create an interesting narrative within the show, which is really very clever and doesn’t risk the audience’s focus on the main sketches at all.
The sketches that don’t quite hit the mark are the longer, story-driven scenes. This may be because the audience were enjoying the pace of the shorter sketches – and to then be given longer, slower scenes was a bit jarring – but this is a minor quibble.
Gein’s Family Giftshop has brought a strong and surprising sketch show to the table with Volume 1. Full of belly laughs and hilarious shocks, there is a bright future for this trio.
Date of live review: 4 August 2014 @ Attic, Pleasance Courtyard