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Tony Cantwell’s Sketch Show review: Charming and inventive with silly flights of fancy

Dublin Fringe Festival 2023: The comedian enjoys his games and riffs, and so does the audience

Tony Cantwell’s Sketch Show

Smock Alley Theatre

Who knew you could do a whole sketch show with only one (live) performer? Cantwell, armed with music, dancing, projected videos and photographs, and some costume changes, manages to pull this off with confidence and charm even when it threatens to go slightly west. Having built a profile via his prolific Patreon Hit Show podcast and live shows, he’s got a great crowd in, a mainly youngish, responsive audience.

The show fairly zips along, a series of solo sketches interspersed with video sketches (featuring additional performers). Cantwell’s humour is inventive, whimsical, with silly flights of fancy and daft juxtapositions.

There are some quizzical ideas in here, from surreal riffs to taking a concept to its logical if unlikely conclusion. A disco bitch is actually a doggie dance. An actor does a hyperactive audition for RTÉ’s latest Dublin crime drama. His date-night sketch, where he goes through the restaurant interaction (with an invisible date) with prompts in his ear from the Arts of Seduction, is very funny, as he follows the instructions to the letter, and pushing just a bit beyond it into cringe-tastic. An S&M fetish cat alone at home is a nifty idea but perhaps works less well. A teenage schoolboy asking a girl to meet his mate is an amusing quick-fire bro. Hand-held puppet character Rashers du Pont, a Dublin-Frenchman riffing on silly, simple language mix-ups and slipping between accents, is a grotesque and fabulous creation, both silly and creepy. The video sketches follow the same whimsical tone and silly oddities.

Mellow-voiced and swerving into accents and voices, Cantwell enjoys his games and riffs, and so does the audience.


Continues at Smock Alley Theatre, as part of Dublin Fringe Festival, until September 23rd

Deirdre Falvey

Deirdre Falvey

Deirdre Falvey is a features and arts writer at The Irish Times