Intrigued by the name of this Irish, comic trio, I hit YouTube to find out if they were funny. The videos made me giggle, and though I wondered how the carefully directed sketches would translate from screen to stage, I nabbed a few tickets (at £16.50 pp). Why not? Part of the fun of having a thriving new theatre on my doorstep, fit to burst with shows and performances, is playing the occasional game of entertainment roulette. You win some, you lose some.
And we definitely won.
They quickly stated, from scattered positions around the theatre, that we wouldn’t be seeing any YouTube repeats, a surprise when that’s what they’re mostly known for. In fact, the entire night was fresh material, relatively free of props, featuring moments of hilarious improv and a generous dollop of audience participation.
No spoiler alerts necessary, I don’t want to ruin the fun. But I will stress the engaging, hypnotic brilliance of Foil, Arms and Hog.
Having just completed a series of shows in Ireland, Chester (naturally) was their first UK stop off. They were intrigued to see if we English would laugh as hard, or if some of the jokes would fail to land quite as well. They needn’t have worried – as I’m sure they could interpret from the standing ovation.
They frequently laughed at one another, whipped out witty asides, and played with the space – like convincing a very tall man to sit on a tower of discovered seat cushions, or accidentally bashing into parts of the set. They had an immense amount of fun and I was thoroughly tickled – cue several episodes crying with laughter.
Prepare yourself to be drawn into the show if sitting on the first few rows after the stage – though you won’t face anything too scary. Picked out audience members seemed to enjoy themselves, were loved by the crowd and warmly thanked. It’s a smart way to keep things fresh for the trio – ensuring a few of their sketches have an unpredictable edge.
They can also sing beautifully, though did so for only a few brief moments during the set. Was I the only one hoping for a bolted on Irish folk music gig at the end?
The guys were quickly out into the foyer after the show, signing DVDs and meeting fans – a good chunk of the audience was giddy to meet them and get hold of some merchandise.
Manchester certainly seems to like them – of the remaining ten stops on the tour (at the time of writing) it’s the only sold out gig – Northerners get it. These guys are seriously talented, and brimming with excitement and enthusiasm for the opportunity to get up there and deliver what they love. If you can’t get hold of tickets, they bosh out a new clip every Thursday on their YouTube channel here. There’s a large backlog of videos for you to enjoy from the comfort of your own home. But I thoroughly recommend you try and witness their boundless energy live – funnily enough they’re worth every penny.