Surreal humour, at its best, can dance the line between logic and farce, keeping audiences guessing as it subverts causal reasoning. At its worst, as sketch-comedy duo Beard ably demonstrate, it spills over into alienating nonsense that deceives viewers into thinking they've heard a punchline.
With The Grin of Love, Beard offer a series of off-the-wall skits, rooted more in amiable simplicity than any complex ideas or dialogue. If there is an underlying theme to the sketches, it's not conveyed with enough clarity for general audiences to connect with. The end result is something resembling either conceptual art with none of the stylistic value, or absurdist humour with none of the wit. There might be an innocent charm to proceedings if this were a college drama production, but instead the sketches appear half-baked. There are some unique concepts here, and the two performers are clearly talented, but the ideas aren't developed enough to produce convincing laughs.
With the exception of a few that are inventive enough to maintain interest, most of the routines feel like rejected scenes from The Mighty Boosh that got cut for being a tad flakey. The pair, Matilda Wnek and Rosa Robson, earnestly elevate bare sketches to the point where you get the sense that they're reluctantly performing someone else's material. The performance space isn't ideal either, as it limits their movements as well as obscuring many attendees' views. Physical surroundings shouldn't dictate viewer experience, though, and, regardless of the setting, the skits are too often directionless and lacking in substance.