The poster claims an allegiance to Royson Vasey and the Grace Brothers store, but Soft Toys has more in common with the likes of The Office, Phoenix Nights and Brittas Empire. Okay, it’s set in a KrazyPrice discount store and features lots of simple-minded local folk, but that’s where the similarities end.
Instead of being presented with a bunch of yokels guffawing over Mrs Slocombe’s pussy, Zoofly Productions treat us to a carefully interwoven tapestry of bizarre, weird and generally quite lonely characters, who are all a bit too familiar to sit comfortably.
While the web weirdo/Sue Cook obsessive is amazingly slimy and disturbing, it’s the procrastinating policeman and disenchanted security guard that really stand out in the ensemble.
Despite having some very well-crafted characters and interesting interactions, there is something about Soft Toys that isn’t quite correct. Part of this is the delivery, as changeovers between scenes take a bit too long and detract from the mood. This also feeds into the main problem, in that Soft Toys is probably more suited to the small screen than the stage, and you can’t help feel that they know it.
Previous Fringe shows that have moved to TV have had mixed fortunes, but it is easy to see that Soft Toys could have the same cult following that’s currently enjoyed by Ricky Gervais et al. However, as it stands Soft Toys is still a little clunky and doesn’t really rise above average. There is a lot of potential here, but we’ll just need to see if they use it.