Another day of the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival, and another highly entertaining performance – this time from up-and-coming female sketch double-act Norris and Parker.

The sketches themselves are very funny; sometimes dark, sometimes surreal, and occasionally punctuated by breakings of the fourth wall, but much of the humour comes from the two principal performers’ rivalry. The two are recent drama school graduates, and they absolutely wear this on their sleeves – to the point where much of their stage personas between sketches are drama school stereotypes turned up to eleven.

The show gives the pair an opportunity to really show off their well-honed performance skills too – including several reworded Disney songs, with Norris’ soprano skills being used to impress, and Parker’s lesser singing abilities being played for laughs, and sketches being interrupted by recitations of Macbeth. They know their strengths and weaknesses, and absolutely use them to their fullest extent.

While the show earns itself some big laughs, there were one or two little things that bothered me. A third performer appears in a few different sketches, but is underused almost to the point of basically being a prop; this is addressed and joked about during the show, but it does make me feel a little sorry for her waiting in the wings throughout. On top of this there seems to be an overreliance on stereotypes, sometimes in sending them up, as with two hipster characters revelling in how obscure their tastes are, but sometimes seeming to affirm them, as with the incestuous connotations of a sketch featuring a video-dating farmer.

Despite these minor niggles, Norris & Parker’s Comedy Wake is a very strong, very funny display of talent, in both comedy and performing ability, and well worth the tiny price of entry.


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