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Four Star Review for Dog-Eared Collective’s Joyride

Review by Marissa Burgess from Chortle

* * * *

Having seen the Dog Eared guys’ shows for the past the last two years – and awarded them a two-star review each time – I was really hoping they would pull it out the proverbial bag this year for another star. A target, it turns out, they easily surpassed.

They’ve ditched the idea of employing a theme for their largely separate sketches, letting the random bunch of loony scenes tumble after each other, largely unrelated to anything else. The skits are much better for it.

That said, there is the faintest semblance of a theme as the show is book-ended with a motivational speech by Sally Gunnell – played by the only male member of the cast in a very dodgy blonde perm wig – who encourages us to take out a small business loan.

Plus there are a couple of running gags one featuring falafel promotion, the other a particularly aggressive seagull, which is sublimely surreal (except for third and final section of the idea, that fell a little flat).

Elsewhere the disparate scenes include ‘combat Morris dancing’, a deranged party planner with a liking for yoghurt and the fantastically cruel and ludicrous idea of dance classes for the recently bereaved.

It’s not absolutely slick or pitch-perfect but that contributes to its charm; the team have always exuded likeability but the writing is so much tighter and honed for laughs now, with fewer lazy below-the-belt gags and more emphasis on carefully crafted silliness.

There’s considered attention to the use of music too. In the widows’ dance class, the vicar in charge asks, ‘When did you last see him? At the crematorium?’ as Disco Inferno plays in the background. Then there’s a re-jigged Parklife to relate a couple’s shenanigans on a barge.

It still looks like they’ve raided most of the charity shops in the Leeds area for their props but now rather than looking shabby it’s charming. More thought seems to have gone into those props too, when two characters grab an unsuspecting but game audience member to star in their music video the set that pops up around them is both inspired and daft in equal measure.

A joy ride it certainly was.