Those little things that hold you back, awkward pauses and abashed hesitations of everyday life: the focus of
New scenes – particularly ‘therapy llama’ – are worth the entry price alone.
Three characters take the rough roles, from left to right, of gentle (Harry Michell), firm (Abi Tedder) and insistent (Joe Barnes). 38 sketches – some continuations – are fired at us, mostly triggering instant elation, thanks to sharp punchlines, and others provoking a more uncertain rustling (the Rotherhithe, sex predator and parent puppet skits come to mind). Throughout, a playful approach to gender conjures up surprising revelations.
Tedder’s majestic ability to contort her face and to move between booming and childishly temperate, squeezing out every bit of delight from the audience, is exceptional. It’s a testament to these actors’ range that there are sudden modulations from sad solo birthday celebrations to a spoilt brat’s self-aware rendition of an “est in horto” aria (that seems to be influenced by – ah such fun – the Cambridge Latin Course).
The delivery is so convincing - often heated - that one wonders if this could turn to tragedy. Occasionally the noise from the trio is overwhelming. Michell, towards the end, couldn’t help but laugh (proof that this show never gets old?) and beamed a satisfying look of dissatisfaction when a spectator exited a notch early.
I loved the live string interludes of last year’s run, and it was a shame to hear this couldn’t be brought back for logistical reasons. But new scenes – particularly ‘therapy llama’ – are worth the entry price alone. In Minor Delays, the actors never look at each other; only at us. This is focused, finely-tuned comedy that isn’t afraid to be dark or unsettling (9/11, AIDS references), and feeds off regular anxieties as if they’re made of gold dust.