Witch Hunt @ Pleasance Dome
A&E Comedy's new show is an odd concoction which fails to conjure comedic magic
What a bizarre little potion A&E Comedy have cooked up with Witch Hunt, a gothic fairy tale sketch show of sorts that starts stronger than anything you will see at the Fringe but soon loses its charms. Abigail Dooley and Emma Edwards are certainly spirited performers, and their early clowning – dressed as witches with abnormally sized hands – is comedy genius, as they prove themselves to be adept physical performers who are admirably unafraid of gags about bumholes and testicles.
Curses then, that after this fantastic spell, Witch Hunt descends into ‘Carry On Screaming’ in a relentless barrage of innuendos that takes us less back to the hag heyday of the 17th century and more to the horror of the 1970s. Of course, there is nothing wrong with a bit of puerile smut, but the rude gags soon become a bit too familiar, as if we are supposed to feel shocked and appalled that a couple of older women use the C word. This is best illustrated in a series of lame saucy limericks performed by Dooley which cruelly underserve her talent.
Other ideas seem creakier than a witch’s knee, for example an ‘update’ of Red Riding Hood as an Austin Powers fembot, and a Boris-parody big bad wolf who enters to Duran Duran's Hungry Like The Wolf. This is all before a bizarre shift into a song about things to fear in 2019 and a couple of decently-handled if incongruous magic tricks (one involving a witch’s pussy). Somewhere buried in here is a political comment about the modern pertinence of the Salem Witch Trials (handled far better by Arthur Miller) and how our current society still fears women in power, but it is entombed too deeply within oddly disconnected scenes. All told, this hocus pocus lacks a focus.
Witch Hunt, Pleasance Dome (Jack Dome), until 26 Aug, 5.30pm, £7.50-11