Having had an almost transcendental experience at the footlights tour show last year (though perhaps as much attributable to the fever of fresherdom and a certain amount of wine concealed inside a water bottle) this reviewer’s expectations were high, but even upon more sober reflection this particular show felt slightly off keel.
Supreme wit was achieved on more than a few occasions, with the google translated French sketch a particular highlight; a niche one it’s true but then so was the audience. Such jokes as ‘Jeremy Bentham the flea’ and ‘the Existentialist Protest’ made it feel a very Cambridge production, as too, unfortunately, did the familiar sight of five white men upon the stage. Indeed the whole affair had rather an aura of middle class tomfoolery, with the frequent corpsing (though valiantly struggled against) belying the fact that the performers were perhaps as much interested in entertaining each other as the audience. Certain sketches, such as the flea merchant appearing to play upon Jewish stereotypes, and the foolishly competitively pregnant women, were ill placed in this context. The content clearly owed a debt to Python but there was little to suggest the intervening thirty years.
The (inevitable) homosexual under/overtones were however handled with both sensitivity and wit, and amusingly subverted. There were indeed moments of self-conscious irony, especially in the transitions between sketches, which were as a whole handled extremely dextrously. Sniggering onstage in the context of divine genitalia is hardly a grievous fault, and a certain degree of uproariousness proved highly enjoyable. The simple elegance of ‘Julius Caesar’ the Porn Star deserves due applause.
So though there were at certain times certain hands left unclapped that is not to say that this show is not worthy of the name of Footlights. To paraphrase a Macbeth inspired Mary Berry (that did not quite come off) ‘Cambridge can be a very scary place’ and we could all do with a little light relief from time to time. Just perhaps not quite this light.
Do you agree? Check out the Cambridge Footlights for yourselves by heading down to 'The Footlights International Tour Show 2014: Real Feelings' the ADC Theatre at 11pm everyday until Saturday 11th October. Tickets can be booked online at https://www.adctheatre.com, by phone at 01223 300085 or in person at the ADC Theatre Box Office. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Photography Credit to Declan Corr.