Review: Panopticon

Tom Bevan 18 November 2015

In the claustrophobic Corpus Playroom, hilarious script-writing and expertly-timed slapstick combined to fashion a highly entertaining performance. Panopticon was a collage of comic sketches smoothly pasted together by a small team of actors who reeked of comedic acting experience.

With a relationship break-up descending into werewolf metamorphosis, and the winner and runner-up of a sperm race being interviewed, Panopticon made a fine study of the ridiculous. Taking only a minute or two to hook the audience, most of the production was side-splittingly funny, and often the audience was gasping for breath between riotously comic scenes. The script-writing was excellent, featuring several strokes of sheer brilliance. Poking fun at Yoda’s illogicality, ridiculing John Tracy’s raw deal, satirising the Champion’s League Cup engraver, and intoxicating King Théoden rendered waves of laughter in the audience.

Yet there can be little doubt that the shorter skits were a lot funnier than the longer ones. Lasting only a minute or so, the “you ‘lright mate” scene was surely one of the most fabulous mockeries of laddish behaviour. However, the comedy grew a little stale when passages were protracted out for too long – for example, after a while the Internet scene was a little iffy, and only just saved by a fantastic final punchline. The final sketch was a bit anti-climactic after a night of wonderful entertainment, its humour a little too crude and scripting a smidgeon too ridiculous. Descending into uncontained slapstick, the comedy lost some of the subtly and cleverness which had so tickled us earlier in the night.

Even so, this should not detract from what was a truly excellent performance by some of the finest actors that Footlights currently has on offer. From satirising popular fiction or 19th century politics, to laughing at normal, quotidian life, Panopticon successfully knitted together a vibrant patchwork of comic brilliance. Although it was slightly stained by its final scene, the overall product was superb; Panopticon comes guaranteed with laughter and will leave a smile on your face upon exiting