Critically acclaimed comedy trio, Sleeping Trees, are returning to the Fringe for the seventh year running. This time they’re offering a trilogy of shows based on movie parodies: mafia, western and sci-fi. I should mention, before we begin, that I saw the mafia edition of the show. But, I have heard through the grapevine that the sci-fi edition is significantly better, perhaps living up to the previous years’ glowing reviews which they so proudly quote on their flyers.
“Perhaps they’ve just been stretched a little thin”
The bottom line is, Sleeping Trees at the Movies, is perfectly amicable. It’s an entertaining foray into frantic film buff parody, without ever hitting anything deeper. There’s no doubt that the anarchic character switching and overblown facial expressions and reactions are inherently amusing. Not to mention, the slick transitions between scenes and settings prove well rehearsed and effective, maintaining the relentless pace with ease.
But, for a show with such refined movement and well-judged pacing, you would expect slightly more intelligent writing. Of course, silly jokes can be hysterical, but in this case, the majority of the comedy seems to be ridiculous overacting, which becomes a little monotonous after the first fifteen minutes. To the credit of the group’s persistence, it never becomes irritating or annoying, it just becomes intensely repetitive, and predictable.
The concept itself holds up relatively well. The framework of a mafia movie remains identifiable, but with enough scope to allow scenes to riff in their own direction. I suspect the concepts of westerns and sci-fi hold up equally well. The clichés and references pose a great springboard to launch comedic moments, but sadly Sleeping Trees never quite take full advantage of it, settling for consistently lukewarm punchlines. In all honesty, the writing just feels a little rushed and formulaic, which is no real surprise given that they have had to write and stage three entirely separate shows. Perhaps they’ve just been stretched a little thin.
Sleeping Trees at the Movies is by no means a bad show, but it’s not great either. The format and jokes prove consistently amusing, but fail to hit any greater or more intelligent heights.
Pleasance Dome, 2nd – 28th August (not 15th), 17:30
Image: Sleeping Trees