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Interview: Surely Anything But Useless?

The Really Useless Group discuss Algo-Rhythm

We’re assuming calling your theatre company The Really Useless Group is more ironic than factual. At least we hope so! Comprised of Leoni Amandin, Sinead Hegarty and Rebeka Dio they are bringing their musical sketch comedy Algo-Rhythm to The Bill Murray for one night only as part of Camden Fringe.

And as we are always trying to keep our finger on the pulse of what the cool kids are into, we wanted to find out more about this show that was a big hit at this year’s VAULT Festival, as well as being rather popular on TikTok. So it was a pleasure to sit down with the team for an hour to get the lowdown on things.

Who are the ‘The Really Useless Group’ 

The Really Useless Group, a musical comedy collective, is a powerhouse of talent hailing from across the globe. Fusing a myriad of skills in musical theatre, multiple instruments, puppetry, and clowning, they craft unique shows that captivate and inspire. Following a rousing scratch at The Cockpit Theatre and a sold-out run at VAULT Festival 2023, they are excited to bring Algo-Rhythm to the legendary stage of the Bill Murray Comedy Club.

What can you tell us about Algo-Rhythm

Algo-Rhythm is an innovative and daring musical sketch comedy. It explores the multifaceted experience of modern life as a queer creative navigating the fast-paced world of social media. “Filled with quirky songs, tons of charisma and plenty of modern life angst. Joyful and clever – not at all useless.” The Reviews Hub, 2023 This spirited performance is woven with themes of feminism, the complexities of sexual identity, and the constant onslaught of social media and its seductive rabbit-holes. And if that’s not challenging enough, we’ve thrown in the extraordinary confusion of today’s coffee beverage options. Experience uproaring performances of original comedy hits such as ‘White Van Man’ (on catcalling), ‘Very Truthful List’ (on conspiracy theories), and ‘Gaydar’ (on distinguishing a guitarist from a left-handed lesbian).

Social Media is heavily prevalent in our lives, and ’Algo-Rythm’ is a musical comedy exploring this modern phenomenon from a queer creatives perspective. Who or What incident inspired you to write this? 

A family member who believes the earth is flat because of a Youtube rabbit-hole, Jenna Tatum’s appearance on Lipsync Battle which made some of us realise we’re more queer than we initially thought, and the various people who have messaged us to lure us into pyramid schemes.

What made this an ideal topic to produce as a Musical? 

We’re talking about current issues and turning our real life problems into funny songs seemed like a really accessible format.

There are three cast members in Algo-Rhythm, can you tell us a bit about their characters and relationship to each other? 

Though this show is musical, it isn’t a typical musical. The format is heavily inspired by stand up and sketch shows. So there are many, many characters in this show, from our family members who don’t understand life as a creative, a pair of eels, and a musical comedy legend whose name rhymes with Euphoria Snood.

Has this play evolved since your debut at the Vault Festival 2023, and are there any surprises in store for us?

 Absolutely, the show is a whole 15 minutes longer, time for a number of new songs. We’ve also altered our onstage personas bringing much more of ourselves into the show.

How important is the Camden Fringe as a platform for this genre and idea?

So many iconic comedy venues are involved in Camden Fringe, including the amazing Bill Murray Comedy Club, where we’ll be performing. The Fringe is a vital springboard for London-based theatre companies who need a platform to try out new ideas and showcase their work at a low cost.

What was your biggest takeaways or challenges with this project? 

Transporting instruments on public transport when there’s only three of us but a keyboard alone requires two carriers. Trying to find affordable rehearsal space and resorting to rehearsing in our living rooms, sometimes with 16 housemates. Deciding on a format to present a bunch of whacky stand-alone comedy songs in a way that makes sense to the audience and doesn’t leave them feeling confused.

What’s next for ‘Algo-Rhythm’ and of course the ‘Really Useless Group’? 

We are really excited to get a producer involved and go on a regional tour early next year before coming back to London’s bigger stages, who we are already in touch with.

Thanks to Leoni, Sinead and Rebeka for taking the time to chat with us.

Algo-Rhythm plays at The Bill Murray on 22 August. Further information and bookings can be found here.

About Rika Chandra

Rika's earliest recollection of theatre was watching ‘Sargent Nallathambi’ at the Lionel Wendt Theatre in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It was a comedy written by Nihal Silva, and it drew her attention as an impressionable teenager to the magic of capturing and interacting with a live audience. As an avid theatergoer (both on her own and with friends) she can't decide on a preferred genre… mostly because she enjoys them all! As long as it has a story that is well thought out and engaging, leaving an audience thinking and sharing, and it feeds their imaginations. Rika live and work in London, and in her spare time, she loves reading/reviewing manuscripts and interviewing playwrights and authors.