Short Shrifts is a collection of 14 sketches by Peter Oswald, often surreal, sometimes existential. A ventriloquist's dummy demands freedom, a dinner party guest doesn't understand why he's so popular all of a sudden, and God's ex-wife tells her life story (apparently the lineup of sketches varies slightly night by night.) Oswald performs alongside Josephine Larson, while Martin Holland provides music and the occasional third character when a sketch requires it. Larson in particular is a very strong performer but I wasn't able to engage with any of the material; the playlets are too short to tell a story but some of them too long to support their basic idea (I don't want to use the word "gag" as they're not all comic sketches.) It probably doesn't help that one of my theatrical bugbears, the unnecessary interval, raises its ugly head. You'd think a venue as far away from the bar as Soho Upstairs would avoid these if possible: By the time the whole audience had been coaxed back nearly 25 minutes had been added to the running time of a show that would have run barely over an hour and a half without it.
Short Shrifts by Peter Oswald is booking until the 5th of November at Soho Theatre Upstairs.