Three Half Pints

Wed 21st – Sat 24th August 2013

reviews

Evy Cavalla

at 13:50 on 22nd Aug 2013

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The Three Half Pints’ brand of humour could not be described as dry, subversive or observational. Their show includes every item on the standard comedy checklist: men in drag, violence, references to male genitalia, and a whole lot of slapstick. However, once the trio have finished running around and hitting each other, you’ll realise that you’ve actually grown quite attached to them.

The trio play brothers, but the fourth wall of this scenario gets broken early. The cast refer brazenly to how short the show is and how curious it is that the youngest Half Pint, Dick (Richard Franks), has an accent hailing from somewhere five counties north of his brothers. The trio’s chemistry is spot-on: they clearly know each other well enough to be believable as brothers, and well enough to make you want to be part of their dynamic, but not quite well enough to find one another’s performances completely predictable.

This is demonstrated when middle brother Ernie (Robin Hatcher) picks on his exuberant younger brother Dick. As Dick shuffles off mournfully, the audience heaves a sigh of compassion, to which Ernie replies, "Look guys, anyone losing that much hair can fend for himself!". The line was adlibbed, in response to the beginnings of a bald spot made very clear by a combination of sweat and lighting; Dick’s laughter and surprise was shared by the audience.

The Three Half Pints have clearly accrued quite a following: the couple I was sitting next to had seen them before and it was the fourth visit for a pair of boys in the front row – a huge compliment for an £8 show at the Fringe. The audience did, as promised, span all age-ranges, with nothing too dirty for the kids but also an element of genuine wit to keep parents entertained.

In constantly vying for the audience’s affections, Derek (Callum Donnelly), the dominant brother, loses out on the support we naturally feel for underdog Dick. Derek is predominantly self-important and annoying, but comes into his own as Scottish battle-axe Aunt Brenda in the last sketch. The role is made for him and he rides out the show’s zenith after a hackneyed restaurant sketch, leaving the audience laughing gently as they file out.

Elements of the routine are over-bouncy: the cast’s entrance is abrasive, and their delivery is sometimes garbled or a little sloppy. However, the enthusiasm is all there and they manage to pull off the difficult task of spanning age and taste with apparent ease. These three may be half-pints, but they don’t do things by half measures.

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Joshua Phillips

at 19:01 on 22nd Aug 2013

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The Three Half Pints put the slap back in slapstick. Quite literally in many cases, with the Half Pints flying around the stage in very impressively choreographed stage fights. This highly-skilled physical comedy is slick, like the trio’s script, which is rambunctious and anarchic in the same way as music hall acts were back in the Good Old Days. Slightly tinged with nostalgic evocations of ‘The Two Ronnies’ and ‘Morecambe and Wise’, all that’s missing is a musical number at the end. Which is rather a pity, come to think about it.

The Half Pints are, in order of height from the largest to the smallest, the self-appointed leader of the trio, Derek, played by Callum Donnely and his brothers Ernie (Robin Hatcher) and the hapless Dick (Robin Hatcher). The trio have some exceptional chemistry, and this shows in the speed at which they play off of one another, relentlessly riffing on bald men in the audience and Dick’s unfortunate name. Gently ribald humour flies about the stage: jokes about “my Dick”, the trio’s mother, hoes and oars (say it out loud, possibly in a slightly Northern accent).

These improvised moments are the strongest moments of the play; more so than the scripted sketches, and the Half Pints intuit this. Their delivery visibly loosens up as they realise this, and the act gradually seems less and less scripted and more and more relaxed, until their neat little sketches seem more like hooks to hang yards of improvised material from. At one point, Dick marries a member of the audience, and her presence provides a well-nigh inexhaustible seam of comedic material to mine.

‘Three Half Pints’ is one of those rare things: a genuinely family-friendly show. Kids and grown-up kids alike will laugh at the physical comedy, whilst the adults in the room will appreciate the more ribald humour in the Half Pints’ set. In all, ‘Three Half Pints’ probably isn’t the most intelligent comedy on the Fringe, or the most original, but it is something that is really very rare: it is Bloody Good Fun.

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