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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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The fringe feels different this year. Call it the cuts, call it the riots, but the shows enjoying most success seem either to be deadly serious or very, very silly, as if public tastes have tired of the bit in between.

Tom Craine, Nat Luurtsema and Dan Antopolski's sketch show Jigsaw belongs firmly to the latter category - not just silly, but breathlessly so. It's also refreshingly free from message or metacomedy, combining the tireless energy of the new with the experience of three intelligent performers who don't take themselves too seriously. A rarer commodity in comedy than you might think.

Fans of Antopolski's trademark daftness will acclimatise immediately but everyone else is soon brought up to speed with a barrage of some 40 skits in one hour. The gags range from the faux-intellectual (Christmas at the Schrodingers) to the shamelessly crude (choking the chicken, anyone?) and while every last piece might not fit, the hit-rate is high.

There's an unforced chemistry to the writing as well as the performances, with Luurtsema's presence particularly appreciated, especially during her wry take on that chick-lit cliché: finding love where you least expect it. Craine even gets to show off the choral pedigree we heard about in his solo show last year.

Few fringe hours pass quicker. You might not remember all the jokes but you leave with the sort of achey abdomen you got after catching the giggles in school assembly. Like Blue Peter with extra balls, from the glitter to the ghostly variety.

--Nancy Groves


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