This all-male sketch troupe is definitely built for comedy. The performers' physical personae are very strong and they seem like recognisable figures, only in part due to the amount of TV appearances that they have racked up in the past few years. The problem is that they are, as a fellow comedy-goer put it, "funnier than their material".
The troupe's show last year was tightly performed, as is Conspiracy, but in this case a storyline has inevitably helped tailor the sketches. Some of these could stand alone, such as one where spies are being swapped over a bridge, with the British spy so hapless that the Russians have to throw in a mountain bike to get their top agent back. It may not be original, but it is amusing.
The piece can also be touching. Within the espionage agency that the show is set around, one of the agents has hired a fake Columbo to watch his estranged child and make sure she is OK. This works well, as does the alleviation of the mood when the rest of the agency get him to join in a re-enactment of Diana, Princess of Wales' fatal car crash to take his mind off things. That's cheeky and irreverent, but elsewhere the story of the faked moon landings, for example, is peripheral and irrelevant.
As with the majority of sketch shows, Conspiracy is a mixed bag, but it's a brand new bag and a lot shinier than last year's model.
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