Thrice (2 stars)

This article is from 2013


Bleak, black and banal

When comedy sisters Sarah and Lizzie Daykin made their Fringe debut in 2010 as Toby, there was much critical acclaim for their innovative daring and unapologetic bleakness. Their almost too-realistic sketch narrative of sibling rivalry spilling over into utter desolation was too much to swallow for some audience members who visibly railed against the unravelling terror. It’s easy to imagine what those naysayers would make of their new project, Thrice, as the Daykins crank up the misery several notches, aided by the far from benign assistance of absurdist clown and ‘prince of the poignantly perverse’, Nathan Dean Williams.

A dank Underbelly bunker is the ideal setting for this trio’s malice-fuelled fantasies as we encounter a series of characters without hope, joy or jokes. A discordant soundtrack accompanies each sketch (one intro tune sounds like a slowed-down Pinky and Perky destroying an Aimee Mann classic) with recurring set-ups losing any potency they may have vaguely achieved on their first outing: for instance, the anoraked couple who mumble platitudes in the rain, a set-up which has a whiff of the murderous banality from British black comedy Sightseers.

The opening scene sets the mood perfectly, a vision of domestic hell as an uncaring husband and father fends off the loving attention of his pregnant wife and needy young daughter, leading to a ‘punchline’ of self-harm and forced abortion. And the mood goes downhill from there on in with a couple seeking family planning advice from a malevolent doctor and a Christmas scene resulting in a double suicide and a conflicted Santa.

As well as their warped musical backdrop, each costume change is filled by pre-recorded ramblings seemingly spouted by blow-up dolls. Given that the best moments occur when the Daykins are alone on stage, a return to the more nuanced Toby should be their next move.

Underbelly, Cowgate, 0844 545 8252, until 25 Aug (not 13), 7.50pm, £9.50–£10.50 (£8.50–£9.50).


  • 2 stars

James Grant Comedy / Mike Leigh Associates. Nathan Dean Williams is wrong. Sibling sketch duo Toby are worse. Together they are perfect. Witches, whingers, perverts, fantasists, simpletons, sadists and sillybillys. Inventive sketch comedy from the murky corners of an unwell mind. Written by Nathan Dean Williams…