Review: Footlights Smoker

Sian Avery 15 May 2014

As the last smoker of the year, the Footlight’s show this week was almost as nostalgic as it was funny, with members of the group saying their final farewells.  For the familiar onstage faces, as well as the regular student theatre-goers, this week’s smoker held a greater significance than normal being the last time this team would come together.  While the performance was dotted with somewhat sombre (though by no means diminishing) goodbye speeches, and the inevitable presence of a few weaker sketches, the group once again managed to deliver an evening of comedy of the high standard expected of them.

As is to be anticipated, sketches which used exam term humour such as 'the milk thief' and ‘Exama Sutra’ (the different positions in which we study, without the result of anything actually going in) were particularly popular with the student audience; however, less likely sketches such as the 'Torres/Les Mis mash-up' also had the audience in hysterics, while Jamie Fraser and Alex Mackeith’s take on the Coen brothers, with the latter lurching, deranged, about the stage with an eight foot stick, also went down well.  More physical comedy such as Olivia Le Anderson’s shower mime, the ‘epic sandwich’ sketch and the crisp-consuming cat fearer were nicely balanced with the stand-up from Fraser and Pope, though the sketches which excelled the most combined the two, such as the gammy pigeon/bird flu scare.  Less successful instances tended to occur either when the acting courageously held up the questionable scripted integrity of the humour (for instance, the ‘small squeaky hammer scene’), or when individuals failed to present a diversity of their comic persona (Adrian Gray’s convincing performance of a drunkard can only take him so far).

As members of the team reflected on their final performance, certain elements such as Matilda Wnek’s heartfelt goodbye and Oliver Taylor’s ‘shirt collecting goblin’ scene brought to the stage a degree of sincerity not usually present.  Though at both of these points the audience became more subdued than in the more raucous sketches, the actors maintained humour throughout – even if the principle source of it was their inability to mask their own fits of laughter onstage.

While some sketches failed to induce side-splitting laughter, these faded away into obscurity to be forgotten amidst what was a fitting and entertaining final smoker.