Not From Round ‘Ere strides forward as another incredibly strong show from the talent within Sheffield. New writing can be particularly difficult to pitch, especially with comedy, however; I believe that’s the very reason why this show was as well received as it was. The fact that pure comedy is a genre that SUTCo tends to be rarely affiliated with made the classic tropes and clichés within this show fresh and unexpected.
The show follows Keith and Harry as they stage the kidnapping of Ellaine in order to receive ransom money from her father to share between them. Being that Keith and Harry are in no way fit for the job, it is incredibly apparent the escapades that the show will entail. Although, the depths of dark comedy that the show delves into surprised most, not only for its graphic ideas but for it’s pure farcical ridiculousness too.
Don’t get me wrong, many people have likened the shows writing and ideas to that of the Coen Brothers, and they wouldn’t be wrong. Yet it was the shows distinct understanding of these tropes that made it so unique. A body was ground through a mincing machine (just like in Fargo) but it was the clever way in which these ideas were brought to the stage that made it so ridiculously charming. Building on that, the show’s distinct realisation and reaction to how naff the effects were received most of the laughs. These moments were perfectly personified by two characters in Morphsuits that acted as stage hands who moved the set on and off stage. Despite this, they were one of the show’s most unique elements adding some incredibly meta jokes into the mix. The Morphsuits were very aware that they were in a show and used that to full effect by interacting with the audience even before the show had begun. However, you were never sure if the characters were aware of them, leading to Keith and Harry eventually having banter with them towards the end of the show.
The show wasn’t without its flaws but these flaws originated from how good some of the jokes were. There were a select handful of jokes that were so meticulously crafted and so well realised that some of the other jokes and set pieces felt that they needed some of that love and attention. The scene where Harry and Keith try to feed a body to the pigs, only to be met by a farmer that rambles on about these beautiful creatures was incredibly funny. However, it was the inclusion of an around 30 slide PowerPoint used in conjunction with ‘Farmer Ben’s Top Ten Pig Facts’ being handed out to the audience that really elevated the joke to new levels. When scenes like this are in the same show as a rather weak death scene for Ellaine, it makes you wonder how great the show could be if it had a second run. Being a piece of new writing, you can obviously tell that some of the jokes were influenced by the cast and the process of producing a show. With more time like this, it would have made the piece truly spectacular.
Notwithstanding, the casting choices for the characters were perfect. Will Taylor and Tom Parrish as Keith and Harry were absolutely the best men for the roles, despite being the worst men for the job. Watching them tackle almost any situation felt like it was being done by Stan Laurel and Barry Chuckle. The chemistry they share on stage was first seen in Damage, but it was here where they finally got to shine as a duo. Another great duo that ran parallel to the plot was a dim-witted policewoman called Sylvia and her daughter Denise played by Polly Sculpher and Becky Danks. Despite having a similar stupidity to it, it was a fresh change of pace from the murderous rampaging rumpus that was Keith and Harry. Although the roles of Ellaine, Becky Gordon, and the Henchman, Michael Taktak, were rather small, they fleshed out the story and drove it forward giving it the pace that neither of the comedic duos could have. Mention cannot be given enough to the Alex Cosgriff who played the Multirole character. Not only was he a fantastic addition to all of his scenes, but his characterisations are what stole the show giving it some of its most memorable moments.
Yet again SUTCo has delivered another great piece of new writing, something that it should continue to peruse. Not only does new writing delivered some of SUTCo’s best shows, it has also given us some of their most unique and Not From Round ‘Ere is no exception. This show was a refreshing burst of energy in a normally drama-filled season that allowed the cast and crew to relax and enjoy themselves and by god could you tell that they did.
Photos made available by JSP: https://www.facebook.com/joesampriest/?fref=ts