Cardiff Comedy festival has brought many opportunities for a belly laugh over the last few weeks. Being invited to watch comical plays by South London group, Velvet Trumpet was a great opportunity and just what I needed today.
Toast began with us looking at a simple dining room table with all the pieces to the puzzle for Toast eating. What made this short skit special was that the toaster was fully functioning, filling the room with the smell of warm bread and the steam against the simple whitewash lighting. We are introduced to Michael; the usual man, making his breakfast and getting ready for work. His love affair with toast is something that most can relate to. The gluten and wheat intolerant in me could even relate to the versatility and ease of toast eating in a previous time. However toast is only a metaphor for Michael’s failed marriage and his way of coping. Hilariously taken through his story, his take on his ex-wife and his life provided many opportunities for a laugh. Interaction with the audience, bringing one on stage also made us feel hilariously awkward, such as the story at that point in time tried to express and the uneasiness of this made the audience laugh continuously. The actor playing Michael managed comedy in an almost natural way in this story telling style, without trying to bring slapstick into the performance which could have been an easy way out; so when the story turns a strange journey, this provided more comical outlets for the absurdity.
A short ten minute break and the change from the original minimalist staging and props turned into an even more simple projection. This longer piece began with a short video of Ken and Steve and their travel of 200 miles from London to Swansea, all in the name of art. However, the support of the Welsh for these two Swansea Jack’s were severely lacking, and during their ‘presentation’ Ken’s anger comes alive. This, what seemed slightly unscripted, piece was a complete turn on the night so far. A simple piece focussing mainly on the telling of a story had turned into the back and forth relationship between Steve – an average and calm man and Ken – a melodrama-ed version of a proud Welshman. More audience interaction, multimedia usage and plenty of slapstick, it was hard to not laugh. Since the actor of Ken was played by the same man as Michael in Toast, himself as a performer was really interesting to watch to show his versatility as a performer; from a naturalist story-teller to a complete over exaggerated being. Ken and Steve picked up many part of Welsh comedy, looking at stereotypes of the Welsh and of particular places in both their telling of their journey, their quips and characters themselves. Combined with high energy movement at times and use of film, this simple but effective piece was a great ending to the night.
Velvet Trumpet had combined the two pieces well by beginning with something so calm and ending with something so solidly humorous – this company sure know how to get their audience and how to combine two different forms of comedy for a fantastic night.