Toby (4/5)/Lady Garden (3/5), Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh - Reviews - Theatre & Dance - The Independent

Toby (4/5)/Lady Garden (3/5), Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh

Just when you think you've seen every possible permutation of sketch comedy – troupes of boys in suits or girls in matching frocks, sketches performed at super high-speed, to rock music or in gimp masks – the Fringe throws up another possibility. Toby are Sarah and Lizzie Daykin, real-life sisters who perform surreal sketches while barely keeping a lid on their sibling bickering. Having been spotted by the relentlessly innovative production company The Invisible Dot on the Free Fringe in 2010, they're one of the most refreshing and exciting new acts at the Pleasance this year.

Sarah is the self-styled star, a hyperactive, attention-seeking brat in a purple prom dress whose pursuit of fame has already seen her sign up to Kabbalah and enter the Priory for Haribo addiction. Lizzie, or "Sarah's sister" as she's known, is a softer-spoken type in jeans, T-shirt and a neat bob who has given up music school to perform with her sister, but finds herself constantly relegated to the tech desk.

Their yin-and-yang dynamic forms a compelling subplot (Do they really hate each other? How can two girls so different be sisters?) to a series of insane skits, videos and even jazz singing. There's a disastrous dinner date, which descends into endless culinary puns, a dance routine about puberty and an encounter with an old woman who waxes her cat. The pacing of these oddball, original sketches is expert – understated slow-burn rather than slapstick – and the family narrative builds up to a deliciously unsettling ending. A peculiar and extremely promising pair.

Lady Garden take a more traditional approach to sketch comedy in their prop-heavy, quickfire hour. It's the all-female troupe's fourth year at the Fringe and, having lost one member, Jessica Knappett, to The Inbetweeners, they're working as a five-piece for the first time. Directed by Phillip Breen, they've slickened up considerably performing on an eclectic living-room set crammed with glitter balls, gramophones and hat-stands, dressed in various takes on Land Girl tweedy chic. The opening is one of the best I've seen and there's a running joke in which everyday events are imbued with tragic significance, which is brilliantly done.

Enormously likeable – particularly the maniacal Hannah Dodd and the charming Beattie Edmondson (daughter of Adrian Edmondson and Jennifer Saunders) – their strength is that they all have funny bones and don't mind making themselves look as silly as possible. Their weakness is that they still lack the writing and killer punchlines to end every sketch with a bang. Still, it's going in the right direction and you'd have to have a heart of stone not to leave smiling.

To 29 August (0131 556 6550)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in new film 'Serena'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Some might argue that a fleeting moment in the actor’s scintillating, silver-tongued company is worth every penny.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth stars as master magician Stanley Crawford in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

film
Arts and Entertainment
U2 have released Songs of Innocence in partnership with Apple

musicBand have offered new record for free on iTunes
Arts and Entertainment
Brad Pitt stars in David Ayer's World War II drama Fury

film
Arts and Entertainment
Top hat: Pharrell Williams

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum star as undercover cops in 22 Jump Street

film
Arts and Entertainment
David Bowie is back with fresh music after last year's hit album The Next Day

music
Arts and Entertainment
Keith Richards is publishing 'Gus and Me: The Story of My Granddad and My First Guitar', a children's book about his introduction to music

music
Arts and Entertainment
Calvin Harris has generated £4m in royalties from the music platform

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman stars as the Time Lord's companion Clara in Doctor Who

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Time and time again: the popular daytime quiz has been a fixture on Channel 4 since 1982

TV
Arts and Entertainment

To mark Tolstoy's 186th birthday

books
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams is reportedly competing with Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss for a major role in True Detective

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sam Smith returned to the top spot with his album 'In The Lonely Hour'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Backshall is set to dance with Ola Jordan on Strictly Come Dancing. 'I have a friend who's a dancer and she said to me 'You want Ola because she's a fantastic dancer and she can make anyone look good' meaning 'even you'!' he said.

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Sting and Paul Simon on stage together at Carnegie Hall in New York

music
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Strictly Come Dancing 2014 contestants and their professional dance partners open the twelfth run of the celebrity ballroom contest

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin teaches Clara to shoot an arrow
doctor who
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week