Soho Theatre, Soho, London, 11/02/2020.
Lola & Jo greet everyone as they enter the Soho Theatre’s upstairs room tonight, though unbeknown to all they’re in character as Leslie and Jackie, two Escape Room employees who are at the top of their game, with the stage a basic facsimile of Lola & Jo’s living room. When the show starts a proper we learn that Lola and Jo have gone missing, leaving behind only a selection of sketches that will help us resolve the mystery as to what’s happened to them.
It’s a neat and original framing device for a sketch show and one that is filled with fantastic gags about not only the nature of Escape Rooms and the people who take part in them, but also Lola and Jo themselves, and while in character as Leslie and Jackie the comedians make sharp jibes about their lifestyles, their relationship status, and the bond between the two of them.
But as strong as this opening is, and the times we return to Leslie and Jackie throughout the show, it’s the sketches which are truly the most impressive thing about the hour. Taking on a wide variety of very different characters it not only showcases just what talented actors the two are but also how sharp their writing skills are, and it’s a show which just gets better and better as it goes on.
The first subject of the duo’s derision are two posh trust fund authors who are receiving an award for their first novel, the mockery is deliciously vicious and just becomes funnier as we learn that they not only self published the book but also paid for the awards ceremony itself. It’s a great beginning, but despite being very funny it’s actually technically the weakest sketch, as the show becomes increasingly more hilarious as we get to witness the duo be interviewed for a spare room and their desperation to be liked by those who live there becomes more and more apparent.
And then once again the show becomes even funnier when Lola and Jo take on the guises of two women who run a dance school that specialises in teaching single people how to dance at weddings, while a deliberately stilted speech on internet security and the passwords you can choose is gorgeously funny too, with the final sketch, where they pretend to be part of a youtube video on how to repair a washing machine but actually sees them struggle to get over an ex, is stunning stuff as well.
The ending to the show is a delightfully high energy moment which joins everything together, and which saw the audience applauding vigorously. There are a lot of sketch groups around at the moment and Lola & Jo are right up there with the very best of them, it’s extremely smart, unpredictable comedy with sketches covering some impressively unusual topics, filled with great ideas and performed by a duo who are just superb at what they do.