Crypt – The Vaults
Reviewed – 11th February 2020
“With their quick wit and shared comedic stylings, Minority Report and its members are definitely worth looking out for”
Minority Report are the first resident team of the improvised comedy syndicate Free Association to be made up of exclusively BAME players. For one night only at the VAULT Festival 2020, the Minority Report players – Ambika Mod, Hari Kanth, Kiran Benawra, Evelyn Mok, Ishan Ganjoor and Amille Jampa Ngoen – hosted and performed a show of two parts beginning with two fifteen-minute stand-up comic sets from outside of the group followed by around half an hour of improv.
After an enthusiastic introduction by Ganjoor (who was also the host for the evening), film graduate Nathan D’Arcy Roberts opened the show with some amusing anecdotes about his experience of being mixed race and having an ‘ambiguous’ appearance.
Ken Cheng, winner of Dave’s Funniest Joke at the Fringe award in 2017, was up next and spent most of his set poking fun at the nonsensical world of online debate. Roberts and Cheng did a fine job of warming up the crowd before joining the Minority Report players on stage for some improvised sketches. The players began by performing a series of short vignettes in groups of four inspired by an initial prompt of ‘baby shower’ before moving onto more general sketches in varying group sizes.
Mod and Ngoen were the standout performances. Kanth also had some great scenes, exuding a Richard Ayoade-esque awkwardness. Chemistry amongst the group varied and there were some clearly preferable pairings such as Mod and Benawra who bounced off each other particularly well.
The group did well to play off earlier mishaps and jokes which also succeeded in creating a strong thread throughout the show. For example, Mok’s misnomer of ‘charity mugger’ for a ‘charity chugger’ led to a fantastically silly scene between Ganjoor and Kanth in which the former demanded the latter hand over his wallet so that he could donate the contents to Marie Curie. Some more prompts from the audience would have been a welcome addition to the show as other than the location of the initial scene there was no participation from the crowd.
The stage consisted of a simple black backdrop, some chairs and a microphone stand. There were no other props other than the chairs and these were seldom used other than for their intended purpose. The lighting was at its most complex when jumping between the two improv groups as one was spotlighted while the other left in the dark.
There is a lot of potential in the Minority Report players, both as a group and as individuals. With their quick wit and shared comedic stylings, Minority Report and its members are definitely worth looking out for.
Reviewed by Flora Doble
Children of the Quorn
Reviewed – 20th October 2019
“Silly but insanely smart at its core”
It’s an age-old question: How do you pass the time while you wait for the dead to show up to your séance? With some sketch comedy, of course! Well, that’s how comedy duo Megan from HR (Ambika Mod and Andrew Shires) approach this situation in their latest production Children of the QuornTM at least.
Armed with a Ouija board and a passion for the paranormal, Ambika and Andrew want to contact a spirit. With no initial luck, the pair resort to entertaining themselves and the audience with a series of short sketches ranging from a dance number (with the Devil no less) to questionable dating advice (the Yawn, the Stretch, the Kill and the I’ll Never Tell). Quick-paced with writing as smart as it is funny, Children of the Quorn will leave you stunned that no one has ever thought to do a play with such a premise before.
The play begins with a look at its end. Ambika cleans up a stage littered with paper money and overturned furniture and Andrew walks around on stage brandishing a hammer while wearing devil horns and a blood-stained shirt. After discussing the success of their latest séance, the duo walk off stage, boom ‘one hour earlier’ from behind the curtain and show the audience how such a chaotic scene unfolded.
Ambika’s dead-pan delivery and Andrew’s upbeat quirkiness complement each other perfectly and it is a joy to witness them banter on stage. Their awkward and bumbling style means that it is often unclear what is scripted and what is improvised. Their back and forth feels so organic and the audience can’t help but laugh along with two friends having this much fun.
Despite all the fun and silliness, Ambika and Andrew remind us not to get too comfortable. They claim that to really understand this show, you must pay attention, and right they are. Jokes and sketches veer off course time and time again resulting in the pair looking at the audience with pity and explaining how stupid their assumptions about the given scene were. The audience never knows what’s going to come next and this is Children of the QuornTM’s greatest strength.
The staging is simple, but this adds to the production’s charm. Three chairs (one of which rests the Ouija board and a bell that the ghost will ring) and a table are the extent of the set. There are some props – a guitar, some books – but most of the sketches embrace the lack of extra frills. One particularly funny sketch pokes fun at the limitations of being a double act as Ambika serves soup to 100 guests all of which Andrew plays. Another highlight is Andrew running off and on stage pretending to be five different people at once which leads Ambika to sit down to endure the wait.
Both Ambika and Andrew know just how long to keep a joke going and there are some wonderful moments of self-awareness: “You may be asking: Does this joke warrant two sketches?” “No, no it doesn’t.” “But is it our best sketch?” “Yes.” The play’s fast pace also prevents any joke or bit getting stale, and there are great references to earlier sketches throughout.
Children of the QuornTM is a real treat and there is no way the audience won’t leave smiling. Silly but insanely smart at its core, Megan from HR is a group who will no doubt continue to take the fringe stage by storm.
Reviewed by Flora Doble
Children of the Quorn
Pleasance Theatre as part of London Horror Festival
Previously reviewed at this venue: