Fringe Review – Soundhouse, Bedford, 2013

The Noise Next Door: Soundhouse
I urge, compel, politely suggest and indeed demand that if you get the chance to see The Noise Next Door’s Soundhouse show, you go.  If you weren’t at this year’s Bedfringe performance then start lobbying now for them to come back next year – this show is brilliant!
 This group of five improvisational sketch comedians brought the fictional Soundhouse club alive during their Bedfringe performance & had the audience in the palm of their hands before they’d even hit the stage.
 Comedy works well at Bedford’s Ent Shed (home of the regular Castle Comedy nights) & this show was no exception.  Chairs were clustered around candle-lit tables, so it wasn’t a stretch of the imagination to believe we were in the hallowed environs of TNND’s legendary Soundhouse cabaret club.
 As the audience was settling down,  the five members of TNND were in character & interacting with the audience. In some situations this could be annoying (if you’re trying to have a conversation with your friend) or at worst, embarrassing (if you dread any element of audience participation & have sat at the back specifically to avoid this fate). In this instance it was a stroke of genius. It created a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere, blurred the lines between ‘them & us’ & we were subliminally aware of the 5 stereotypical characters before they’d even set foot on the stage.
 Although the show did come highly recommended in the local press, I had seen Pappy’s at last year’s Bedfringe so my ‘sketch-comedy-benchmark’ was high. Very high. I was prepared to be impressed with TNND if they were even half as good. And I wasn’t disappointed (you can use that on the poster).
 As we were introduced to each character, the audience were asked to suggest attributes, quirks & foibles for each of them.  With astonishing quick-wittedness (far quicker than the audience’s reactions) each character rattled off puns & gags relating to their affliction. Felicity (half waitress/half ostrich) was a personal fave.
 As the show continued at a frantic pace there was not one weak link, there were no sub-standard gags and the level of audience participation was perfect for this reviewer.  The Soundhouse Honk Off was a joy to behold, as was Madame Mulkiki (sic) & her predictions of the future. The hamburger of truth never lies!
 If pressed, I would say that the boy band routine was the least successful, but that could have more to do with the audience member’s inability to remember her own name than TNND’s performance.
 This Edfringe preview show epitomises perfectly the beauty of Bedfringe. We get to watch the best emerging comedy in an intimate venue in our own town for a fraction of the price of an Edinburgh show. And once we’ve got our reaction times up to speed, we’ll be worthy adversaries for these superbly improvisational punners.