Seven years after the influential sketch series left our screens The Fast Show cast reassembled, brought together by the demands of the DVD market. As product launches go, this was one of the more engaging.
The sketch group were sadly without Caroline Aherne ("tragically she's in Manchester" announced Charlie Higson who was the straight man who opened proceedings) but there were stand out performances (and ad-libbing) from Mark Williams and Paul Whitehouse who, as his comedy partner Harry Enfield noted from the stalls, was having a particularly good night. His portrayal of the unintelligible Rowley Birkin QC from the balcony was one of the few sketches that benefited from being taken from screen to stage.
For the most part, the show was an adequate reproduction of the TV sketches, a selection of which were played at the beginning of both acts to remind us just how good the show could be. Sketches such as Louis Balfour's Jazz Club were studio-based to begin with so lost nothing in translation, the novelty here was the participation of Paul Weller and Roger Taylor of Queen - an apt appearance for the theatre that houses We Will Rock You, the Queen musical that Simon Day, in character as Billy Bleach, had earlier joked featured "children singing Queen songs badly".
Other celebrity cameos included Richard E Grant and David Tennant - a victim of the sinister Ken and Kenneth "suits you sir" mob, a sketch that fan Johnny Depp once appeared in for the show's last TV outing.
As with the previous live outing in 1998, comprehensive use of the stage was made with trapdoors and elevated portions and the aforementioned balcony cameos, all attempting to make the show as fast-paced as the original.
However, to paraphrase Shakespeare "truth will fade out" meaning scene changes can never match the pace and the fact the show was never punchline-led is exposed ever so slightly more. So for example the "Johnny Nice Painter Sketch" has all the anticipation of the character's fear of black but attempts to tweak it slightly as a one-off limited edition, live DVD extra and falls a little flat with each attempted variation.
Fortunately, particularly in the second half, a host of the best-loved characters had their moments including Swiss Tony, a baton carrier for the lost art of innuendo ("having your own firework display is like making love to a beautiful woman, you wait until dark and see if your end is glowing") and, of course, Ted and Ralph, a musical interpretation in this case.
They may not have been as fast out of their blocks as on screen, nor are they the newest kids on the block but The Fast Show team can still teach other pretenders a thing or two.Reuse content