Imagine this: it is nearing midnight. Amidst the dark of the Pleasance Attic suddenly three figures burst in, wearing Victorian-style white nightgowns, dance and chant in a ritual of some secret society, drawing a salt-circle around themselves. In the background, Tarot cards are hanging on a string on their backs, the numbers circled with what looks like dry blood. Welcome to Gein’s Family Giftshop and Goose’s sketch comedy, the darkest show you can possibly watch at the Fringe.
The show’s idea came when Kath Hughes, one of the three comedians, had her cards read in Blackpool. They decided it was a good experiment for a sketch comedy – letting the audience draw the cards, and inspired by the meaning of each, they deliver an insanely witty, odd and twisted scene. It all happens in the classical fashion of Bruce Forsyth’s Play Our Cards Right. The audience has to chant ‘Brucie’ as one of the three comedians moves their hands along the line of cards, and wherever the chanting is the loudest, that card is picked, and the sketch follows.
Tarot is a show where the audience cannot know anything particular about the sketches before attending the show, as their shock-value lies in their unpredictability. But they are all grotesque, absurd, and utterly hilarious, no matter if the card is The Fool, Lovers, or Death. The comedians interact with the audience constantly, it rarely feels like just a scene the viewer watches, but more of an intense experiment where they are just as involved as the comedians themselves. The setting is constantly shady and dark, the beautifully artistic, yet haunting design of the cards hanging in the back, and the unbroken salt circle adds an extra, chilling dimension to the ghost-like figures of the comedians. They are using plenty of props and tools, and very often the scene gets dirty, both metaphorically and very literally. The suspense holds true for the entire duration of the play, and there is an extra twist at the end – just when the viewer thinks it cannot get any more disturbing.
All in all, Tarot‘s presentation guarantees a strange amalgam of laughter and a feeling of adrenaline by a somewhat uncomfortable spooky chill, and this odd mixture makes this play impossible to forget. The presence of the occult weighs heavily on the room, and when you walk out into the night, you are going to take a little part of it with you.
Tarot is on at Pleasance Courtyard – The Attic (Venue 33)
At 22:45 until 25th August
Get tickets here
Image: Drew Forsyth