Rib-ticklers don’t quite hit the spot

Northern Bites, hosted by Lewis Schaffer, Alnwick Playhouse Studio, Saturday, March 25.

A MIXTURE of stand-up and sit-down comedy was the name of the game at Alnwick Playhouse last weekend.

New York comedian Lewis Schaffer started off the night in the NTC Studio and, while the audience was small, he still managed to make them laugh.

Despite slating the English and the Scottish, Irish and Welsh, his charm, wit and outrageous comments seemed to hit the right note with most.

For me, he was funny in parts. His quips about Scotland being the Gaza Strip of England, despite three Glaswegians watching, caused numerous guffaws.

And he somehow managed to love and hate his audience in the same sentence.

His move to the UK and failed marriage formed a lot of his set, along with the differences between England and America.

Don’t get me wrong, he was definitely funny, but he didn’t tickle me as much as other comedians I have seen before.

The second half of the show saw a team of four actors – Kalum Fergus (Phil), Charlie Richmond (John), Carolyn Fairlie (Victoria) and Catherine MacCabe (Sandra).

Entitled The Starship Now Arriving At... written by Graham Pears, it tells a story of brotherly love, infidelity and obsessions as two men wait on a lonely park bench for the woman that never comes.

Phil, dressed as Captain Kirk, with his spaceship-shaped sandwiches, believes an advert to meet in the local paper has come from his ex-girlfriend, Sandra – because of its Star Trek-speak.

With his brother John at his side, there were some hilarious jokes made about Phil’s costume, his antics at Star Trek conventions and getting arrested in the same place the previous night, as well as John’s concern for his own reputation.

But when Phil thinks his ex isn’t going to turn up, he leaves to move the van.

It was then that the story really got going for me. While the brothers were hilarious, the scene seemed to drag on for a little bit too long. When Sandra arrives, the audience discovers that John and Sandra had one night of fun, which both want to forget.

The play turned serious then and Phil inevitably finds out.

It was funny, sad and dramatic all in one, and although brilliantly written, I felt that the first scene on the bench took longer than it needed to get to the point of the story, but it was good entertainment nevertheless.

The two parts worked well together – plenty of gags and lots of laughs.

HELEN MILLICHAMP