Tarot @ Pleasance Courtyard
A spooky sketch show from members of Gein's Family Giftshop and Goose
At the end of this curious sketch show/occult experiment, leading man Ed Easton claims that the troupe are trying to bring back the ‘spirit of the Fringe’. A lovely choice of words given that the last hour has seen an interactive Tarot reading featuring resurrections, bumps in the night and one or two flickering lights (although that might have been the rusty tech).
What Easton might mean by that oft-intoned, rarely-understood abstraction is that the Fringe inherently entails something often ramshackle, sometimes misfiring but endlessly endearing. This is what Tarot aims to achieve, thanks largely to the talented cast (a hybrid of Gein’s Family Giftshop and Goose) and their relaxed, (un)intentionally corpsing style.
It’s an odd but interesting concept: after the creation of a salt circle, the audience select on-stage tarot cards by shouting out ‘Brucie’ (a tribute to Play Your Cards Right), then the cast – dressed in Midsommar-chic – present a handful of sketches based on the Hermit, Death, the Fool and so on.
While the set-up is engaging, the sketches themselves are up and down, much like Brucie's famous cards. A lengthy parody of the phrase ‘I’ll be mother’ is deliciously dark and straight from the cobbled streets of Royston Vasey, while Easton’s impressions of public service vehicles and his deep hatred of the council provide sillier moments. However, even in the sketches which falter, there’s always something funny to be found.
The show works best when it ramps up the spookiness, and the final section – in which the significance of a predication from a Blackpool gypsy is revealed – provides a chaotic but satisfying conclusion to the madness.
Tarot is a praiseworthy experiment, especially amongst the wealth of middling stand-ups trying to make it big and the future looks pleasing for the group. Didn’t they do well?
Tarot, Pleasance Courtyard (Attic), until 25th Aug, 10.45pm, £7.50-£10