Identity Crisis had its moments, but its worse jokes fell flat on the ears of an unforgiving audience.
Even walking into the Corpus Playroom, it was clear that the performers were going to have a tough time. Most of the seats were empty, and a small, shy audience is a comedian’s worst enemy. Despite this, Rory Russell, who guided us through the show, built up a friendly, intimate rapport during the trickier sections in which audience interaction was vital.
This atmosphere, however, could not last without his encouragement. Much of this was a problem with the show’s structure: while some jokes, such as Alex (Hattie Clark)’s insistence that, having gone to a grammar school, they were ‘middle-class at best’ were clever and well-suited to a Cambridge audience, we were also thrown a lot of useless information, such as references to Alex’s ‘gap yah’, which didn’t quite manage either to have a punch line or to become relevant to the plot. Additionally, while Clark was very good at portraying the frustration Alex feels after their money gets stolen, the pattern of them pulling tantrums repeatedly with different people in positions of power became old and unconvincing – I struggled to see how it would really convince anyone to help them recover their money.
The background cast was, in general, strong. Emma-Rose Bouffler successfully created the extremely insipid character of the CEO of ‘Cringetagram’, the social network stealing people’s personal information. Macky Padilla also had good comedic moments as a GCHQ employee, such as the moment when he unsuccessfully attempted a parkour roll to get out of a sticky situation. Carl Lawrence as the repulsive CEO of the bank somehow managed to project his character’s personality solely in the way he was sitting, and while his rap was unexpected and slightly painful, this was at least partly the fault of the sound, which came in too late and left him standing in silence for just a moment too long as he waited for it to start. Thea Grønhaug was the star of the show with her satirical and snide portrayal of a customer service employee – unfortunately, her brilliant sarcasm could not shine like it should have due to the low energy of the rest of the show.
While Identity Crisis was built on a good idea and had some killer jokes, it somehow just lacked focus. The technical errors and forgotten lines, while individually very small, added up to negatively affect the atmosphere of the show. Also, in their search for comedy, the scriptwriter seemed to lose their way through their discussion of data sharing, which in turn made the comedy less effective. It was a shame; each individual element of the show was very strong, but they didn’t quite fit together. With a slightly more focused script, a few more days of rehearsals, or just a bigger audience, this very impressive group of people could pull off something much greater.