If ever a show did what it said on the tin, it’s The Smooth End of the Pineapple. A sketch show in the style of a radio broadcast is exactly what this show is. It’s quite dapper, with your hosts Matt Bell (176 cm) and Scot McPhie (180 cm) presenting very well in crisp white shirts and bow ties, which makes you feel like this is serious business (in a good way).
The venue is the functions room at Lock’n’Load in West End. I arrived too early and caught them in their metaphorical shirt tails (oops, sorry, guys), so some kind of signage would have been good, or the door man keeping watch at the bottom of the stairs instead of the top. I thought about hanging around and quizzing them about their influences (my journalistic role model is Rita Skeeta of Harry Potter fame), but I fled instead, as is more my style.
I needn’t have worried about sourcing their influences, though – that’s evident from the very beginning (and it’s also in the bio and the programme). When someone talks about their influences, though, you kind of expect to be able to look at a companion and say, “oh yes that’s very Monty Python, isn’t it?” You don’t really expect to be able to sit there and easily identify which Monty Python sketch inspired which Pineapple sketch, which is how I felt for a good portion of the show; “Ah yes, that’s the famous both peaks of Mt Kilimanjaro skit,” and so on (although most people have probably only seen a Monty Python film or two and not memorised their entire back catalogue (unlike me)).
In terms of performance quality, a previous reviewer has spoken about scripts in hand making it seem unpolished but I don’t know – if it’s a radio broadcast, they probably would have scripts in hand so maybe that’s a stylistic choice as well as a practical one. Perhaps a mix of scripts and no scripts would be the best of both worlds? What I did love about the performances from both Matt and Scot was their ability to completely slip into character. Changing character is about more than just changing an accent – it’s the way you hold your mouth, your posture, and your mannerisms (and your wig). I found both performers able to make me forget what their real voices sounded like, as well as the way their previous character’s voice had sounded.
Since all of the sketches were cleverly-written, I’m trying to work out what fell flat for me. It might have been the venue. I feel like I wanted more from this concept. I’m not experienced with the live theatre radio show phenomenon, but I think a bigger venue with more commotion might have brought it more to life for me. Perhaps I was looking for a little more visual humour, a bit more razzle dazzle. And yes, I know it’s a radio show, but it’s a live radio show in a visually theatrical setting, which I think means a certain attention should be paid to what the audience is actually going to focus on.
But look, they seem like a really funny couple of guys, and I have genuinely never seen performers enjoying themselves more on stage. They clearly have a real joy for what they do and it shows.
Maybe they just need a government grant to help them develop it?
Reviewed by Bec Newton from 10th May performance at 7:30pm.
Buy tix to The Smooth End of the Pineapple here.