Review: Cull (Gryphon Theatre)
Updated: Jun 2, 2022
Facebook culling is something I think all of us have done at one point or another (or even on an annual basis); deleting and unfollowing our social media friends to relieve ourselves of that feeling of excess connectivity, and having our feeds littered with smug selfies, status updates, and inspirational messages from people we barely know. The Very Good Looking Initiative's sketch show is sandwiched with this idea - deciding to depose of all those unnecessary friendships before going into sketches based on the gripes we all have online. It sounds like easy fun, though the evils of social media is well-trodden ground and "Cull" faces the difficulty of being original whilst still being relatable.
Performed by Honour Wolff and Patrick Durnan Silva, it is quite clear that the two are talented performers, but they go out of their way to add an edge of awkwardness to the performance. For example, in a dance sequence, a "Chicago" style move lifting their leg over the back of a chair followed by the splits fails poorly, losing all sexiness in an ungainly mess. As well as being hilarious without feeling like we are laughing at their expense, this provides a nice contrast to the internet perfection that they take such delight in mocking. Take the scene in which they perform as annoying Instagram fitness gurus, twitching dramatically and grinning insatiably, before performing a manic and impossibly quick "exercise" of them bouncing around the room like wild children.
Their endless energy on stage is impressive, but it does lead to some repetitive performances. By the time we get to a scene of a cat called Mitzy being photographed, Wolff's hyperactive performance becomes a little monotonous. Said scene, an easy but funny jab at online cat fanatics, escalates and becomes unsettlingly sexualised. In fact, most scenes strayed from being typical sketches to being macabre and absurdist. Some will find these Monty Python-esque surrealist detours and unconventional jokes engaging, others will find them irksome. I found myself somewhere in the middle. The dark comedy often worked well, as did the timing (especially with the sharp lighting and sound), but they did give off the impression that when writing or devising each scene, the artists were prone to being distracted or bored, leaving it feeling a little disjointed at times.
Then again this disjointedness included scenes such as the camp musical number "The Best Gay Around". I can't say how this sketch linked up with the theme, but its hilarious commentary on gay stereotypes was much appreciated anyway. "Cull" is a show that is driven more by humorous concepts than witty lines.The core message of the show is a refreshing counter-argument to what I was expecting form the show, being more about attitudes towards social media and what those attitudes say about us than about social media itself, and for those who like their sketch shows to be a little unconventional this will be a rare treat. Three stars.
Whispers from the crowd:
"It's a show that says what everyone is thinking"
"It is my favourite show of the Fringe so far"