Ed Fringe 2016: Sci-Fi? at the Pleasance Courtyard
Thanks to a pair of live musicians, a suitably atmospheric soundtrack of eerie synths and booming drums greets audiences filling the Pleasance Courtyard for Sci-Fi?, the latest film parody from comedy trio Sleeping Trees. Taking their place in front of their orchestra, the Sleeping Trees themselves (writer/performers Joshua George Smith, James Woodburn and James Dunnell-Smith) turn in frenetically fitness-testing performances, showcasing well-honed physical theatre skills alongside the humour within their writing.
The plot is an unapologetically shameless pastiche that follows lowly farmer boy Charlie Sprogg on an adventure to a galaxy far, far away, alongside a charismatic space explorer and his loyal yet dangerously impractical robot, “Guns-for-hands”. Performing an entire space opera’s worth of characters with a cast of three, and whipping backward and forward through space and time, ensures pace is maintained even in the longer gaps between gags.
Many of the biggest laughs in the show come thanks to perfectly timed slapstick pratfalls and ingenious contortions that conjure fantastical props – such as a hover bike, enormous gun, or a stick of asparagus – into being as required, using nothing but the three bodies on hand and a little imagination. Also important to the comedy is the chemistry clearly evident among the troupe. This is the third such production they have performed at Edinburgh’s Fringe (following Western? and Mafia?), and a strong sense of identity, and of each individual’s responsibility, pervades all. Sections in which one cast member is apparently given room to improvise to the befuddlement of his colleagues work well, though something might be done to better signpost these on-the-spot deviations from an already zany script.
Perhaps a little too reliant on cliché to truly bear the comparison to groundbreakers Monty Python and The League of Gentleman, which was made by one oft-quoted review, Sleeping Trees have nonetheless put together a very entertaining show, and an hour spent with them in the outer reaches of space will fly by in mirthful merriment.
Sci-Fi? is on at the Pleasance Courtyard from 10th until 29th August 2016, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch the trailer for Sci-Fi here: