Review: Act Casual and Rookie

Marion Koob 2 May 2012

Act Casual and Rookie

Corpus Playroom, 9.30pm, Mon 30th April

The stand-up groups ‘Act Casual’ and ‘Rookie’ joined forces at the Corpus Playroom last night to produce a show in benefit of the charity The Affinity Project, giving room for plenty of pleasingly bad puns and gestures of mock rivalry between the two groups.

The show was made up of a succession of short sketches intercut with cheesy, but lyric-relevant music. ‘Act Casual’ had the upper hand on originality of ideas, as well as on acting performance. They opened with a rehearsal of a musical of Nelson Mandela’s biography, ‘Rocking Robin’, which led to an entertaining exercise in practising South African drawls, combined with a side-sketch about Spanish wolves. They played off accents successfully again with a scene in which a kennel employee admits to eating one of the ‘Dougs’. There were a few sketches that didn’t quite hit the mark: one that played with expressions such as ‘red herring’ and ‘elephant in the room’ was wince-worthy, and the worst of them – in which two policemen end up imitating dogs, with one shouting to the other to sniff her behind – was awkward.

However, perhaps the best comedy was a skit in which the act of milking a cow was made into a musical number – Harry Michell called out to the audience for song suggestions, only to be at loss when ‘A Whole New World’ was suggested. “Do you know the song, Daisy?” he asked to his off-stage partner. “Moo once for yes, once for no”, he added, stoking further the hilarity of the audience. Several times the actors let their mask slip and couldn’t hold back a laugh, which only added to the comedic effect.

Most of the ‘Rookie’ members’ sketches exploited female stereotypes, including an enjoyable spoof trailer of a 300 Days of Summer-esque film, and mock ads of beauty products and diet programmes. However some of their acts just felt too short and too easy, with the same composition; an exaggerated action (dancing, putting on a duvet case, responding to being asked to stand up…) too often ended with a predictable one-liner. At times, the acting was a little too forced. The final Shakespearean exchange between Temi Wilkey and Ellie Nunn was, however, excellent; the effect of mixing well-rhymed period English, over-enthusiastic acting and crude lines worked a treat.

The show, including a ten minute interruption due to a fire alarm, lasted just an hour. Given that there were two groups, that’s quite short. I also later found out whilst reading old reviews that ‘Act Casual’ repeated some of their popular sketches from their October show. Make of that what you will. Despite some off notes, the show was overall enjoyable, although a bit more meat would have been fairer value for money.

Marion Koob