Reviews Edinburgh Published 30 August 2011

The Human Tuning Fork

Just the Tonic @ The Caves ⋄ 4th - 28th August 2011

A promising performer.

Colin Bramwell

The right note.

Character-based comedy show  The Human Tuning Fork sees Alison Thea-Skot primarily performing as Tiff Mason, a psychopathic singing coach who bears an uncanny resemblance to Carrie Grant from Fame Academy (other characters include a CBeebies presenter, a defence attorney, and a social worker).

The show charts Mason’s downfall, following an attempt to murder her husband and his new wife. The piece bounces from character to character, with Thea-Skot moving seamlessly between Tiff and the other creations. The show, as a whole, has a consistent impetus. In fact, because it’s so slick and methodical, it was a little too easy to become a passive observer, rather than a participant in the intriguing and potentially explosive environment she depicts. This should be anathema for a character comedienne who relies heavily on audience participation: engagement is vital. Unfortunately, despite her skills as a performer, The Human Tuning Fork was simply not all that involving.

While the show opens incredibly impressively, it doesn’t really build on this and runs out of steam early on. A lot of the humour felt drawn from already over-mined sources, and drew out compulsive rather than impulsive laughter from the lunch-time audience. The attempts at spontaneity also felt rather forced and, crucially, not all that spontaneous.  Thea-Skot is an energetic and charismatic performer and she pushes things through regardless; she evidently has potential as a character comedian, but in a year where the standard of character-based comedy has been particularly strong she needs to work on honing and refining her material.

A big issue in this regard was the fact that, Tiff Mason aside, her characters were all a little too similar; a useless defence lawyer, an obnoxious Australian, a misplaced children’s television presenter: they all shared similar traits, a form of desperate, attention-seeking ineptitude, which started to become repetitious as the show progressed. Perhaps more work could be done on Tiff Mason as a character, to make her engaging enough a character to carry the show – as it is, her repeated warbling soon became irritating – but there’s the foundation of something interesting there. Thea-Skot is evidently an able  performer, and there is a definite understanding on display of how to structure a show; but The Human Tuning Fork worked best as a demonstration of potential, of what she could achieve; on it’s own terms it fell a little flat.

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Colin Bramwell is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine

The Human Tuning Fork Show Info


Written by Alison Thea-Skot and Chris Bennion

Cast includes Alison Thea-Skot

Link http://www.alisontheaskot.com/

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