The Sunday afternoon crowd is hearteningly heterogeneous - its constituents varying from captivated pre-pubescents to sombre old hippies in Ivor-inspired plus-fours - and Cutler's command over it is such that when he jokingly suggests that applause might be saved for the end of the show, his next three or four communications are met with respectful, if not deathly, silence. Fortunately, Ivor Cutler enjoys silence. He likes nothing better than to leave a pause big enough to park a bus in. And when he escapes the lure of the hiatus, this is an exquisite porcelain tea-cup of an entertainment: inscribed with arch aphoristic wit ("A romantic man thinks that a woman is constantly aware of her body") and brim-full of restorative baritone melodies, self-accompanied on a magical, wheezing harmonium.
From one man whose life-long struggle to keep out of touch with his inner adult is an inspiration to all, to four whose dark brand of homespun Gothic is ready for a much wider audience. Just two months after shutting up shop at the end of the Edinburgh Festival, the prolific northern sketch- troupe The League of Gentlemen already have a polished and perverse new show in residence at the cosy Canal Cafe. The only possible reason for them not already having their own series on Radio 4 is that the Corporation fears they might show everyone else - except Harry Hill and John Shuttleworth - up.
Their writing is crisp, clever and full of detail, and Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith - the three- quarters of the League who actually make it on to the stage - are all excellent actors. Their inspired theatre-in-education troupe "Legs Akimbo" are particularly well-adjusted: "Me, I'm happy with who I am ... and if you're not happy with that, why don't you go and kill yourself like mum did?"
The League of Gentlemen: Canal Cafe, W9 (0171 287 6059), Mon, then weekly to 24 Nov; Battersea Arts Centre, SW11, 0171 223 2223, Thurs-Sat.Reuse content