Molly Stewart

Latitude Festival comedy review: Gein’s Family Giftshop, Volume II

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Gein’s Family Giftshop open their new hour of sketches at Latitude with a smoking slow-motion set piece involving cigarette flicking and sexual-implicit body flexes.

Fitting, following their huge success at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe. Also fitting are their comments on the scaled-back nature of their props, given they’ll be losing more money in a bigger room in Edinburgh this year: no more fake blood.

Gein’s Volume II show is a beautifully presented assortment of dark, bloody sketches that are laced with brilliantly casual writing. Small, seemingly ad-libbed comments turn funny writing into natural, casual-feeling conversation.

Surprise tactics of various scales litter the hour – simple visual gags, prop comedy and slow-building set-ups that become funnier and funnier with almost equally slow releases – not mean feat without losing the interest of an audience, which Gein’s holds onto with a tight, sometimes confusing grip.

Gein’s Family Giftshop’s sketches are fabulously funny, languishing the sort of primary school world the sketch trio inhabit (not least because of their PE kit uniforms; but because of the dark infantilised characters they present to their audience).

Gein’s casual style simultaneously reinforces the knowledge that what you’re watching is sketch comedy, while also implying so neatly that the characters and the performers (Kath Hughes, Ed Easton and James Meehan) are indecipherable – subconsciously, you feel uncomfortable over where these hilariously dark ideas come from.

Sketch transitions are mixed: sometimes commented on, sometimes smoothly stepped into from one scenario to another. Regardless, each scene seems as fully formed as the next, even those that seemingly don’t involve characters.

Kath and Ed listening to Jim’s poem in memory of his mother (a terrific, childishly self-centred memorial) is great; a sketch involving telling ghost stories typically blunt.

A smallish, hot and spaced-out (literally) audience at Latitude may not have been what it deserved, but Volume II is a worthy follow up.

Date of live review: Saturday 18 July 2015 @ Henham Park, Suffolk.