Comedy trio Joshua George Smith, John Woodburn and James Dunnell-Smith form Sleeping Trees, a sketch comedy group specialising in quirky, physical and fast paced content. The group are returning to the Fringe after their smash hit show last year which satirised common movie tropes from the sci-fi, mafia and western genres – earning them the 2017 Spirit of the Fringe award. As one of hundreds of sketch comedy groups performing at this year’s Fringe, Sleeping Trees stand out due to their ingenuous use of physicality and music that complement their quick-fire sketch style.
Within this production you will notice each of the cast members’ individuality and how they work fluidly as a unit. Beginning with Joshua George Smith, you see his dark satirical style really complimenting the moments of black comedy in the script. Moving forward there is James Dunnell-Smith, spicing up the show with his incredible vocals and his ability to create a vast range of different characters in an instant, with a real skill for mime and storytelling. Finally, John Woodburn brings an incredible energy to the stage that leaves the audience hanging off every word. His impeccable comic timing can be noted countless times within the production. They all bring a presence that warms the entire stage, engaging the audience throughout, making it a real pleasure to watch.
What separated them out from the crowd last year was their very unique and engaging concept and it is disappointing that a similar element wasn’t introduced into this year’s show. There is no denying that the cast is very talented, but the script did have moments of weakness, with the connective scenes between the sketches feeling quite stilted and messy in comparison to the rest of the show. Sleeping Trees have a real skill for embodying environments and creating atmosphere using only their physicality and it was a real shame that these talents were not utilised more within this production.
This show, whilst being a guaranteed fun evening of comedy, was underwhelming in comparison to their smash hit last year. But of course, many audience members won’t be going into the show with this bias in mind and will receive a very enjoyable evening of comedy. Do book in for Sleeping Trees if you are looking for a night guaranteed to make you laugh.
Sleeping Trees: World Tour
Assembly George Square Studios – Two (Venue 17)
Until 26 August
Image: Mark Dawson Photography