Two men and one woman, apparently strangers, await orders for their induction day. We do not know what for. A voice coughs over the intercom. It asks mysterious questions that spark a series of flashbacks. It’s a strange frame narrative for a sketch show but it comes off beautifully with an entirely original and satisfying ending. But more important than that, the sketches themselves are pure gems.
This is an amazingly consistent, fresh and funny hour
Rat: Induction makes sure to run the full gamut of comic categories in their set; there is gross-out humour, wordplay, self-deprecation, observational comedy, satire, postmodern self-awareness and pure silliness all delivered with perfect economy and perfect timing. Towards the middle of the set I noticed that every sketch was getting its own applause. Then I noticed that they all deserved it. There was not a weak sketch in sight. Not even a whiff of one. I began to ache with laughter with my cheeks stuck in a permanent rictus grin.
It is the consistency of the acting and the writing that is perhaps most impressive. The audience is never two or three beats away from a good to very good laugh. Rat have a sharp eye for making the mundane silly yet dangerous. An angry father whose mistrust for the internet goes slightly too far shows the performer’s ability to weld endearing wordplay with risqué material. A bit about Egyptian architecture gone wrong made me grateful I wasn’t drinking anything at the time. The row in front would have been drenched and so would the row in front of them. Also I would have lost alcohol. Unthinkable.
The end of the show pulls off something quite unique in sketch comedy. What emerges is much more than a series of hilarious sketches. It becomes something far more ingenious and profound. You’ll have to find out what it is for yourself. But what is even more impressive about this is that Rat: Induction never becomes too knowing about its cleverness. Instead the conceit is treated with a winning innocence and charm.
I did have a small problem with the conduct of the actors. When one was offstage but still in view of the audience you could plainly see him or her laughing at the other two. The sight of a comedian thinking their own jokes are so funny, even if they're right, is a little off-putting.
All in all though, this is an amazingly consistent, fresh and funny hour. It is the first show Rat have brought the Edinburgh Fringe. I'm already looking forward to next year’s.