Review: Jackson and Grumitt – Planet Marmalade

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★★★☆☆

Three Stars

A new comedy duo, Jackson and Grumitt, staged their ticketed debut at the BT studio this week. The pair exposed their audience to an eclectic mix of sketches, including a top secret M16 meeting (located in Starbucks), a couples’ counselling session, and an advert for jelly babies (“putting the babies back in jelly”). The sketches ranged from silly to satirical to somewhat political to downright bizarre. I could see similarities to Mitchell and Webb, Marcus Brigstocke, and perhaps even CBBC’s Horrible Histories.

An already classic Richard and Grumitt sketch opened the show. The lights came up and we were immediately thrown into a father-son chat between, you guessed it, God and Jesus. “Good morning, Jesus!” smiled Jackson as God, clothed in a lycra robe. Grumitt, as Jesus, introduced us to his fantastically wide-ranging vocabulary of facial expressions, as he stared in disbelief at his fathers plans to invent ebola and put “loads of it in Africa.”

The juxta-position between Ollie Jackson’s typically bright and skippy characters and Grumitt’s more stoic ones creates a real charm about the duo. The energy is at its best when they are onstage in dialogue together, because their differences in physicality (not to mention physique) immediately gives space for endless humour.

One very successful sketch featured a scene in which Jackson, as Thomas Culpepper, is meeting Catherine Howard (Becky Rutherford) The two are discovered to be having an affair by King Henry VIII, who is played by Grumitt. The scene was expertly planned, with the identities of the two characters onbly being revealed just before the King’s ridiculous entry. Grumitt’s Henry VIII rubs his belly gleefully and grins wickedly as he sentences his wife, in an exaggerated English accent, to be beheaded.

Jackson seemed to very much to enjoy skipping around as Thomas Culpepper. He seemed equally comfortable playing his dimmest character yet: Brian, a member of the three musketeers, alongside Grumitt and Alex Mckenzie. Brian doesn’t quite seem to understand that they are meant to be brave and intimidating and bizarrely enters the stage carrying a tail, which he claims to have been trying to pin to a donkey. Yet again, laughs were achieved by the exasperated Grumitt, who dion’t know what what to do with the absurdity of the situation.

It might be said that Jackson and Grummit’s show needs a little bit of honing in before it hits the nail on the head. Occasionally, the wackiness went over the heads of the audience, and they were scarcely able to keep up with the high energy performance. There were points at which the laughter may well have been due to slight disbelief, for example as a result of the use of some rather crass humour involving doctors encouraging their male patients to have their genitals removed. The duo are daring, certainly, and it seems likely that over time they will come to refine their art.

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