Sketch group Geins Family Giftshop from Manchester returns to the fringes with their first full hour, fresh from a triumph at London Sketchfest 2014. It’s an impressive debut, packed with delicious purility, commendable invention and impeccable timing. The show begins with a piece of beautifully choreographed obscenity. It sets the tone for the coming comedy, and from then on things only get better, from rude dancing to smart, stripped-down skits that bleed into each other without a chance to breathe. The three bounce off like nothing else.
Ed Easton is a natural clown, energetic and hysterical, capable of nailing the Coogan-esque kind of stuttering awkwardness in any fight. James Meehan is a dominant presence with razor-sharp timing and a clear sense of humour. When not on stage, they are directed by director and co-writer Kiri Pritchard McLean.
I hesitate to use the word “dark” because I have seen other reports from the group that the visit was uncomfortable and repulsive in some places, but it was done with an eye on the punchlines, jokes and physical set pieces. Otherwise, the atmosphere offered room for comedy. It was a process to get laughs.
On paper, the “Coffee” sketch looks like a basic, unspectacular concept, but is saved by Meehan’s joy in the interaction and the handover. One item falls away, but I’ll save it for later.
Hughes’s finest moments come when they compete one after another, two after another, in their sharp-tongued exchanges of words. Easton is brilliant to watch as he moves, shuffles and fluffs like a raging clown.
Hughes refers to the rawness on offer, saying: “It’s sperm in a bumper. You can’t fool an audience on stage, “but we know it’s more.