Review: James & Seaburn – Pigeon Trousers

James & Seaburn

[First published on Quays News 18/07/16]

SKETCH double act James & Seaburn performed their very first preview of their new show Pigeon Trousers at the King’s Arms last night (July 16). I was there for us to see the show that will be making its way up to Edinburgh next month.

The King’s Arms is a lively pub perfect for comedy, however, James & Seaburn would have had the right to be a little aggrieved with the pokey studio they had been given, far from ideal for their show full of props and swift costume changes.

Pigeon Trousers is the double acts second show at the Greater Manchester Fringe and consists of a mix of songs, sketches with bits of stand up and improvisation thrown in. The title of the show is meaningless; in no way is it a bird fashion show, but it sums up the sporadic jumps between contrasting sketches rather well.

Both comics are accomplished musicians, but strike the balance of songs to sketches well. Ian Seaburn appears to be truly at home with a guitar around his neck and Nicola James has a voice that many a professional singer would be proud of.

One musical sketch that stands out focusses on an all mythical horse glam rock band called Rockin’ Horses. The costumes alone are funny and the unique idea allows for a wealth of character based jokes which are delivered superbly. The characters reappear to conclude the show, however, the song didn’t work on this particular night due to the fact that it was the first time they had performed it together.

Many of the sketches contained the idea of bringing either inanimate objects or animals to life by giving them a human perspective. A pair of socks that went through a break up, a hand bag and dagger moaning about securing film roles, a poem from a cat and of course the Rockin’ Horses are all inventive ideas that are performed with high energy and enthusiasm.

A call back to an earlier sketch at the end of the show is one of the most surreal moments, but the twisted logic it derives from is a hilarious piece of sketch writing. The homemade costumes presented a side-splitting image that sticks in the memory.

There’s no getting away from the fact that the show is silly. The duo know this better than anyone, their smirks throughout the show indicating that they themselves love this type of comedy. They hilariously allude to the silliness of the show when they seemingly attempt to perform a serious section about hoe some idioms contradict each other. The explanation that ensues uses dubious mathematics and is done at a comical speed to ensure maximum stupidity is achieved.

Tonight’s show wasn’t slick, and even though it was a first preview and you would allow a wide margin for error, the two experienced comics missed the professionalism mark by a distance. Improvisation held the show together but in a way the mistakes and mishaps added to the mishmash feel of the show.

As was said at the end, the duo learnt a great deal from the first outing of their show. The sketch ideas are unique and although eccentric, they are easy to follow with good jokes, and a smattering of clever puns. With more efficient transitions and stronger assurance in their performance, Pigeon Trousers has potential to be a big hit in Edinburgh and beyond.

3

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Review: Piano Cad – Cloth Cap and Clogs

Piano Cad

THE KING’S Arms in Salford is host to a range of shows throughout the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival, and last night (June 8), Piano Cad perched upon his trusty piano situated in the Snug to play a few numbers straight out of the 1930s and 40s. Our reporter Adam Lewis was among the few to seek out the free performance…

Piano Cad, known as David Bottomley when out of character, gently entered the cosy pub room to a ripple of applause to perform his show ‘Cloth Cap and Clogs’. With the demeanour of a war time gentlemen and the moustache to match, the man from London sauntered in and settled down on his piano stool.

A nice little ditty about alcohol got the show rolling, attracting titters from the intimate audience. Island of Pomona was up next, but this was only a warm up for the best song of the show, the hook of which contains the lyrics – ‘she loves to shimmy with me and her mother does too‘.

The tempo of the tune helped the rather repetitive punchline land, with the final line of the song providing a twist which earned the biggest laugh of the night.

 

Piano Cad

An elaborate anecdote about the royal family followed the song. This was very much the pattern of the show. The stories he told were abstract, but the imagery he created captured the Salford audience, however, he struggled to get any hearty laughter. The story did, however, provide a fluid link into the next ditty God Save the Queen and Her Fascist Regime.

He then played a sweet song about love which contrasted well to the political song, even if it’s on the lighter side of political comedy. A Salford specific anecdote followed, surrounding the local hero L.S. Lowry.

Again, the story was abstract but was told in a believable style. He may have pushed it too far however, losing some of his audience, but there were a few good gags playing on his character’s ignorance.

The atmosphere was laid back making for easy listening. With only a smattering of people in the small room, the performance felt personal with Piano Cad almost telling stories on a one-to-one basis.

Shows with tiny audiences can feel awkward with performers visibly struggling with their act, but this was certainly not the case here. Piano Cad’s character felt natural and easy to warm to; very rare for distinct personalities.

Piano Cad

Matchstick Men and Matchstick Cats and Dogs is the song to round up the half an hour show. There was a somewhat awkward moment as there was uncertainty to whether it had finished, but a generous round of applause did eventually mark the end.

It was pleasure to sit back and enjoy the performance, particularly in the King’s Arms as the venue contributes a great deal to the aura created by the piano.

The friendly atmosphere continued after the show with David breaking character to chat with those that came to watch.

The show offers a delightful flavour of the fringe, and fully enhances an evening’s enjoyment.

Piano Cad performs his free show at The King’s Arms on Sunday 10th July at 9pm.

3

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