Last year in Edinburgh I went to see Kev’s Komedy Kitchen after having heard from Helen Stead that it was Elliott Bower’s favourite show and he’d been to see it a lot of times. To hear that someone who sees as much comedy as Elliott was so enamoured with a show that he’d see it so many times in such a short period strongly suggested that it was going to be something of a gem and how right this was! The original show was a beautiful hour of farce that would have made a lovely one off special at Christmas. It was quite simply the best show I saw in Edinburgh and one of the best things that I saw during the entire year. This, though, was the sequel and it was carrying enough expectation on my part that I’d taken my mum and dad to see it with me. Sequels are tricky things to write, especially after such a triumph – anyone who has played the genius that is Deathtrap Dungeon and then tried the sequel, Trial of Champions will tell you that. I was very curious as to whether they would be able to pull another rabbit out of the hat with The Second Cumin.
The signs were good. This was one of those gigs, where there were five people sat there fifteen minutes before show time and still five with two minutes to go and then as if by magic the room suddenly filled up, almost in the blink of an eye. A huge bonus was the retention of the strong cast from last year, with Kevin Dewsbury as the eponymous Kev, Will Hutchby as producer Will and Hannah Blakeley and Mike Newall in crucial supporting roles. Elliott Bower was on tech, where he had the job of producing the correct jingle at the right time (the jingles definitely add to the feel of the show).
The show began with Will explaining the concept of the show and alerting everyone that this was a work in progress and that everyone would be working off of their scripts and that further to this, due to circumstances beyond their control they hadn’t been able to bring the full set with them and so were improvising with a bench and a few props. This wasn’t a problem at all; it must be very difficult finding chance to get four people together at the same time and in the right frame of mind to rehearse a full show and with Dewsbury having moved house the day before it was splendid that he was focussed on the show, as I’m not sure many people would want to flit and then do a full show the next day. After he had completed the preamble, Will further set the scene by explaining how Kev’s last year had been spent, which provided a wonderful bonus for those who had seen the first show and a short backstory for those who were unlucky enough not to have seen it. This was proceeded by him doing the rules for whilst they were filming and pointing out where the cameras were. Stood in his logo’d producer T shirt (a marvellous little extra), Hutchby was convincing enough in this for half of the audience to be turning to look for the cameras.
Kev opened the show with everyone clapping along to a great song that built up the atmosphere, before launching into a string of deliberately bad puns, which got a lot of laughter. Those jokes were obvious, but there were a lot of subtle jokes during this hour, too and even without the full set, this was a very visual show. In daylight, at tea time in Derby, this show was compulsive viewing, so I can only imagine what a visual feast it will be in Edinburgh. Dewsbury has some great lines, but perhaps the bit that hit home the hardest with me was the level of doubt and disbelief about the credentials of his special guest. His tone of voice and choice of words were exquisitely nuanced and pitched at just the right level of incredulity to carry full conviction without tearing the arse out of it – a difficult balance to master most likely, but he does it well.
There are two guests, one a surprise and the other a special guest. Blakeley is a very good actress, who last year managed to convey so much even without saying a lot. This year she has a more vocal performance and I’d say that she has nailed her role. She manages to convey a stunning level of ignorance and achieved being unknowingly provocatively irritating to Kev almost instantaneously. The accent that she later employed was brilliant and had Will knelt down helplessly corpsing – seeing someone laughing so hard, whilst trying to hide behind his copy of the script was heart-warming and worth the ticket price alone. The special guest is Mike Newell as Michelli Newalli and whilst there weren’t any huge surprises to people who had seen the first show, it was no less funny for it. Newell has the ability to just stand there in silence and to then slowly say a short sentence of few words and to get a great laugh. He’s low energy and glorious with it, almost as if he doesn’t have to move fast to catch the laughs. It’s great watching him and Kev working together and the correct answer was a very nice moment.
Will Hutchby plays a very large role in this show, providing context and framework, yet he is almost under the radar as everyone is concentrating on the stage. This is a bit paradoxical, as Will has some of the funniest lines. I think the reason the limelight manages to miss him is because he performs his role so well and is very convincing as a producer, somehow keeping everything on track whilst ensuring that the audience remain focussed upon the show itself. Again, something that takes a lot of skill to get the right balance.
This show is a work in progress and it was a bit raw in places, but that in no way detracts from it. The only thing I felt might require a bit of attention was the ending. Despite finishing with a clap along song, it didn’t quite have the big finish feel that the first show had, but that is the only slightly negative thing I’ve got to say about this. The story arc follows on naturally from the first show, making it feel as comfortable as donning a pair of slippers, but it is also different enough to feel fresh. I could say that this show is less a sequel and more of an equal, but instead it’s easier just to say that they are onto a winner. This was an hour that went by quickly and was extremely funny. For a show to be this funny whilst working from script is no mean feat and the finished article is going to be majestic.
This will be a smash hit.