Header Image

Sketch Up!


Sketch Up!

32 Below

32b West Nicolson Street
Main Cellar: AUG 5-15, 17-20 at 11:00 (60 min) - Pay What You Can

Sketch Up!

A smorgasbord of radio sketches, performed live. Witty, intelligent and irreverent, we take a sideways glance at modern living. If you like John Finnemore, you’ll love “Sketch Up!” As heard on BBC Upload. **** “A delight...with bite!” The Phoenix Remix.***** "Deliciously witty. Rachel E. Thorn is a brilliant writer." Alistair McGowan.

Written and presented by Rachel E. Thorn. Rachel’s sketch comedy has been performed by top impressionists including Alistair McGowan, Rory Bremner and Josh Berry. She has written for the BBC’s Dead Ringers, Newsjack and Breaking The News. Her acting work includes Lovefool, CSI: Crime Scene Improvisation and MATES: The Improvised ‘90s Sitcom and she is the winner of The Phoenix Remix Act Of The Year.

Performed by a team of professional actors and comics. Suitable for visually impaired audiences.

This year we have two entry methods: Free & Unticketed or Pay What You Can
Free & Unticketed: Entry to a show is first-come, first served at the venue - just turn up and then donate to the show in the collection at the end.
Pay What You Can: For these shows you can book a ticket to guarantee entry and choose your price from the Fringe Box Office, up to 30 mins before a show. After that all remaining space is free at the venue on a first-come, first-served bases. Donations for walk-ins at the end of the show.

News and Reviews for this Show

Recommended Show

August 7, 2022   Fringe Review

Recommended Show

With a wide variety of radio sketches packed into an hour from the pen of writer Rachel E. Thorn, this was a gentle and satisfying way to start my morning reviewing at the Fringe. Thorn has written for the likes of Dead Ringers, among others, her work has been performed by Rory Bremner.

Three talented performers (including Rachel E. Thorn herself take us through an hour of sketches, some less and a minute long, most running into a few minutes. These are sketches rooted in comedic observation of the lives we live and there is much to savour and recognise in the sharpness, but never cruelness of this material.

With scripts in hand, radio style the 32 Below venue provides an intimate space and, though script-based there is plenty of eye contact with the audience as Thorn introduces each sketch. From pug cancellation to the weather, the variety is a core strength.

The hour rushes by and this is gentle, sharp-witted, observational radio comedy. You’ll leave at the end with favourites from the many sketches on offer and, in my case, craving a cup of Builders’ tea.

Sometimes the actors gesture a bit, other times it is pure, fairly physically static reading and this was a little inconsistent across the hour. I closed my eyes during one sketch and it came to life in my imagination, as good radio drama should, with me creating the pictures. At other times I wasn’t sure whether I was supposed to engage with the physical bits of acting or not. That may be ironed out as the show runs here at the Fringe.

This was my first review at this year’s Fringe and it felt like quintessential fringe, not over-designed, very direct and nonsense. comedy doesn’t have to scream to be heard and it can simply draw upon the quirks of life in all its light and shadow. This is what Sketch Up! achieves.

It all comes down to the intelligent and funny writing combined with the high quality vocal skills of the three performers who are joined up, well calibrated between each other. It is all very accomplished and there were plenty of giggles and laughs to be had. The audience clearly enjoyed the variety, the payoff lines and the geniality of the performers. Rachel was a warm host and this was a generous helping of morning comedy, unfussy,deliberate in its intentions and pulled off well by the threesome on stage. Click Here For Article

REVIEW: Sketch Up!

February 4, 2021    The Phoenix Remix

REVIEW: Sketch Up!

Instead of old man yells at cloud, this review starts with young-ish man shakes fist at Covid. These sketches, the work of Sheffield based Rachel E. Thorn and produced by Melanie Crawley and Gerard Fletcher were to be performed this month at the Leicester Comedy Festival, and it sure would have been fun to go see them in action.

For fairly obvious reasons, this will not be happening now, so Sketch Up! have stuck a bumper 45 sketches up online (peformed by Rachel E. Thorn, Melanie Crawley, Gerard Fletcher, Rowe David McClelland, Ali Mylon, Letty Butler) for you to enjoy at your leisure, perhaps while in the bath or building an elaborate cardboard maze for your hamster and / or toddler.

Rachel said in a pre-festival interview in these pages that these sketches are non-satirical, and make zero reference to Covid or politics.

It is indeed a delight to hear ludicrous civil service interviews, Enid Blyton characters sending lashes of texts from the beach, and the idiocy of door-to-door fairytale Princes without thinking about face masks, hand sanitiser, or the incompetence of Boris Johnson.

But everything is at least a bit political; the former, for instance, is a fairly brutal takedown of that middle class staple the fast track career interview. Lines like “You live in a shared house with people you don’t like in Clapham” are both funny and a fairly savage takedown of the banality of ambition and the invisible rails that guide privileged or otherwise lives.

My favourite sketches here were the ones with a bit of bite, and those telling little moments of despair amid the well observed parodies of fairy tales and ancient children’s’ fiction. So a Dad’s reassurance that there are no monsters under the bed somehow descending into explaining how a furtive morning wank in the shower is now his only source of joy, or mother bear and daddy bear discussing their porridge and suspiciously young girl problems at marriage guidance counselling, give these deceptively simple sketches a salty undercurrent.

Just as with all good sketches, these all settle into their premises quickly and escalate with satisfying pace. The punchlines can be hit and miss, as with all comedy ever, but there’s enough bubbling away here for that not to be a problem. I particularly enjoyed the Weatherman sketch, which starts off as a simple list exercise but heads off on weird and wordy winds, and the repeated mining of the absurdity of pregnancy, childbirth and marriage.

There’s also a lot of fun being had here with the banality of small talk: these characters are frequently taking things very literally indeed, with some fairly dark and at times jarring consequences.

If you were the sort of person to take sketches far too seriously – and take it from me, don’t be that person, you’ll never get invited to any good parties – there’s a fairly decent critique of late capitalist heteronormativity amid the doomed engagements and pretentiously worded gastro pub menus.

But! Pretend I didn’t say that. Instead, please enjoy these sketches with as much or as little politics as you like, perhaps with a class of mid-price Merlot, and your headphones on so as to block out the noise of those infuriating Clapham housemates.

Rating: **** 4 stars Click Here For Review

Press & Media for this Show

Sketch Up!