The Footlights’ new sketch show Bread was a delight to watch, with some truly original sketches which left me at times impressed as well as entertained. The ensemble of performers, some of them fairly new to the ADC stage, brought heaps of enthusiasm and the creativity behind the sketches shone through, even at times where the comedy didn’t quite hit its mark.
The show began with a fast-paced video introduction of a loaf of bread floating high above the earth, leading to the expectation of quite a baked-goods-heavy theme. In this, however, I was disappointed. Titles of Footlights sketch shows often seem to serve only to entice an audience to come and watch rather than being indicative of the content. (I’m not saying I wanted a full hour of jokes about bread, but a thematic thread interwoven throughout the show could have added some unity to the varied sketches.)
That said, the originality of the sketches overall cannot be faulted. There were some really clever skits that were big hits with the audience. The Sims 2 sketch where Rufus McAlister is controlling his Sims, Eve Delaney and Will Hall, was acted with great precision, and the recurring sound of James Coward’s voice saying ‘ding dong’ with every mouthful of food was easily the best riff of the night, introduced within a very funny sketch with Rhiannon Shaw that deployed perfect comedic timing.
The show also successfully interspersed filmed sketches, which is the first time I have seen this done without it seeming contrived or technically clunky. These skits blended in perfectly with the full performance, drawing on gags from the live sketches and providing a bit of visual variety for an audience, which was appreciated – the man who lives in a telephone booth particularly stood out as a funny short clip, as did the funeral scenes where the actors’ deadpan deliveries had the desired comic effect.
The five-person ensemble were at their best when there was more of them on stage, making full use of the space; however, there were also times when this led to some badly executed interactions. Talking over one another and occasional blocking impeded full understanding of what was going on and there were times when it seemed like neither the audience nor the performers were sure if the sketch had ended. The first Daniel Day Lewis sketch left me wanting more, not so much due to being in fits of laughter but because it felt like there was still some untapped comedy potential in there. I’m sure, however, as they become more seasoned performers, the ensemble’s creative ideas will be exploited to a fuller extent and with more confidence.
Bread was an original sketch show which sets expectations high for the immediate future of the famous comedy troupe, as the show felt like a changing of the guard, making way for fresh ideas and indeed 'rising' stars.
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