Review: Foil, Arms and Hog: Craicling, York Barbican, May 16

FOIL (Sean Finegan), Arms (Conor McKenna) and Hog (Sean Flanagan) trade along the same axes of physicality and energy, albeit at different stages.

While Finegan takes to the central stage as the compere for the show’s opening, Flanagan enthusiastically upends seating plans, rearranges coats and steals water bottles.

This dynamic the three share is immediately endearing: they’re constantly raring to go, and never afraid to shy from ad-libbing lines and making up whole segments. McKenna shines in particular when it comes to his quick uptake for improvisation.The ad libs, however, can prove a double-edged sword, with a few instances of a quick back and forth completely derailing the pacing and vibrancy of a sketch.

It’s the nature of sketch comedy to prove a bit hit and miss, and here the misses occur due to some outdated set-ups that feel well-trodden ground (student loan, online forums). A couple of sketches feel like they breeze through with plenty of energy but no satisfying set-up or punchline. One is a parody of The Deer Hunter that has no real progression but is saved by the level of sincerity the troupe throw into their audience interaction.

It may be a bit rough around the middle but with a punchy format (the performers hit a cymbal to signal the end of a sketch), tons of willingness to jump off script and a fantastic take on one-man plays, the show is a celebration of downright silliness.

Louise Jones