Writers: Luke Cedar, Lewis Cook, Oliver Ley, Vince Stadon, Kev F Sutherland, with additional material by the cast
Director: Roz Hopkinson
Reviewer: Joan Phillips
The show format is for short versions of potential brand new sitcoms, competing head to head, performed live before an audience. A sort of Britain’s Got Sitcoms.
The evening features four productions. The first is about a farmer who would rather be a detective. Like all famous detectives there is no ‘Mr’. So, as a tribute to his famous heroes (Morse, Sherlock, Colombo), he insists on being called McDonald. Following on, is a low budget production company trying to cast for some promotion material for the next great new fast food. In the third sitcom we are shocked by the inside world of extortion in (of all places) Glastonbury, where the villains are the druids. The final performance is about a market research company who seem to have allowed their research to have taken over their lives.
The productions are all very funny and each lasts around 15 minutes up to a cliff-hanger moment. Towards the end of the evening the audience get to vote for the best and the cast then come back and perform the second half.
The show was introduced by James Dowdeswell, former Sitcom Trials alumni. Dowdeswell was an excellent host for the evening. Already a headline act at some of the UK’s top comedy clubs, he smoothly keeps the process of the competition going with great humour.
At the interval the audience are asked to participate in Pitch Fest. Everyone is asked to submit their own idea for a new sitcom and vote for the best one. Before the end of the evening the supporting cast act out their own improvised version of the winner.
The Sitcom Trials is a stage and TV show originally devised and produced by Kevin Sutherland. It started in Bristol in 1999 and it seems apt that it returns to Bristol to a new venue, The Wardrobe Theatre, specifically set up to support new work using local talent. Located in an upstairs room in the White Bear pub, space is limited so get there early to avoid disappointment. The pub serves good food and has a great atmosphere so have a meal before you go upstairs and finish off the evening with a few drinks as the show finishes comfortably before last orders.
The cast of Closer Each Day, a local comedy sitcom group, also deserve a mention. They provide support to the main cast and the improvisation for the winner of Pitch Fest. They return for a season of improvised comedy of their own at The Wardrobe in September.