Inventive, experimental, and true to sketch comedy, Burns and Moore invite their audience into their world. Beginning with a pre-sketch sketch, the duo introduce their niche: funny not because it has to be, but simply because it can be. The props piled in the middle of the floor and two desk lamps illumating the stage place the focus firmly on the comedy, which comes in barrels. No deep thought, knowledge or experience is required to laugh with this duo. Each quick-fire sketch each comes with a new invitation for laughter, be it from the ridiculous scenario, the physicality, or simply the way in which a word is articulated.
Burns and Moore play with emotions and words. They present historical figures with the emotional intensity of a Renaissance painting; even at the prospect of a beheading Catherine Howard remains astutely contained to her Maid. They have a brilliant acuity for finding a character and a word, then running with it; at the show, I discovered that the range of possible ways to say ‘Cricket’ is endless. This revelation came in a sketch giving us Burns and Moore’s interpretation of how the game was invented, which seems just as likely as any other interpretation. Because of the players’ openness, their sketches were inventive enough to be original but simple enough for anyone to enjoy.
For the most part, the comedy was as much in the physical and vocal performance as it was in the concepts of the sketches. The players’ facial expressions and range of voices were thoroughly engaging and purely comic in themselves. I would have liked to have seen more use of the space, but to be fair, the show was in a tightly packed pub attic. The small size of the stage meant that the duo largely had their backs against the wall, which comes with comic potential of its own, but more use of the stage would ensure that the whole audience gets the full Burns and Moore experience.
A particularly entertaining moment came in the form of a mistake. Moore (with a paper bag on his head) remembered the journey of a sketch differently to Burns, and the pair disagreed on their next step. This moment proved Burns and Moore to be seasoned sketch artists, as they were honest and present with us and each other in the confused moment. The unexpected light and playful disagreement that ensued was funny in and of itself, only enhanced by the quirky costume. It is the sign of a committed sketch troupe who love what they do when challenging moments are dealt with live in inventive ways.
The mistake was far from the only moment Burns and Moore fully acknowledged the absurd nature of their relationship with us. The duo used an audience member as their third character in a sketch, inviting us to partake in the absurdity of their world. I would have liked to experience more sketches that directly use the audience as it helped to get us on board with the material, but the pair were definitely aware of us, playing for us and with us throughout the show.
Burns and Moore stage your typical light-hearted sketch show. What sets them apart however, is their willingness to go anywhere, and their presence with one another and the audience. Genuinely original comedy is difficult to come by, but Burns and Moore make it look easy with experience and skill. Burns and Moore share with you their love for sketch in generous abundance.