[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.