Dua Lipa and Sarah Sherman Got Gothic On This Week’s “SNL”

The aspect ratio was a nice touch

Dua Lipa on "SNL"
This week's "SNL" included a sketch about a reclusive playwright.

Earlier this year, SNL traveled into the past for “Shrimp Tower,” a memorable sketch about a shrimp-obsessed Austrian aristocrat and his bold invention. This week, the show also traveled back in time for a tale of Miss. Everly (played by host Dua Lipa) who meets Peter, a reclusive playwright whose work has touched her. The mood this time out is decidedly Victorian — James Austin Johnson’s beard and top hat are neatly suited for a tale of Sherlock Holmes or Jack the Ripper, and the whole thing is shot in black and white in a 4:3 aspect ration.

Once Miss Everly encounters the writer — played by Sarah Sherman under an absurd amount of makeup and prosthetics — things take a turn, as they say. The bond formed between the two has echoes of both The Elephant Man and Poor Things, and Sherman seems to be channeling her inner Gollum in playing Peter, who writes under the alias of The Anomalous Man.

Part of the sketch’s tension comes from figuring out precisely where it’s headed. As Peter reveals more and more bizarre qualities — including a taste for spiders and a suitcase full of dust — it seems like the sketch is heading towards the gross-out elements of “The Librarian,” in which Margo Robbie played a school librarian with an escalating series of bizarre characteristics.

Turns out that’s not where it’s headed at all.

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The Anomalous Man is another excellent addition to the array of eccentric and bizarre characters Sarah Sherman has played on the show to date, including a woman with singing meatballs, a headless tennis player and an ad agency employee who recently had an eye transplant. Weird SNL remains the best SNL, and Sherman’s work raises the bar for the show’s weirdness on a regular basis.

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