Review: The Cambridge Footlights International Tour Show – Lagoon

Carl Wikeley 8 June 2016

It’ll be ‘kraken’ you up!

“A sketch is five minutes, then it goes dark, and there’s potential for something else.” Here, Saturday Night Live favourite Jason Sudeikis hits upon the saving grace of sketch comedy, but also its potential shortcomings. Monotony can easily creep in, but the opportunity is there to snap out of a lull in laughs. It’s a good thing, then, that The Cambridge Footlights International Tour Show 2016, Lagoon, showcases enough variety to keep it fresh. It goes without saying that the comic acting on stage was superb. Or does it?

It is often taken for granted that comic acting is about formulating, writing and delivering the lines well, with the laughs following in due course. But there is so much more to acting in a comedy show, that is little spoken about. As highlighted well in Lagoon, it is the nuances afforded the characters that emphasises the class of acting talent. Sarah Creedy Smith and Rob Oldham particularly stood out in this respect; if you watched all the cast members closely, you noticed an incredible attention to detail within each sketch. As with the best SNL sketches, you get the feeling that the cast (as well as the crew) know the script personally, and small individual touches are really what makes this show stand out from the generic comedy crowd.

Lagoon has less to do with a sense of narrative, and more to do with the aesthetic. It’s clever to utilise this ambiguity (see Le goon, Lagoon…), as it is also perhaps in the variety afforded by the intermixing of ‘traditional’ sketch forms, and more interesting and experimental uses of multimedia devices, that Lagoon shines.

With input from all the cast, yet with an overall eye for detail from director Tom Fairbairn, the use of multiple techniques lifted the show to another level of complexity, from the brilliant use of projections, to the clever use of the ‘God Mic’ technique (a common occurrence, particularly in comedy or pantomime scenarios, however here this remained fresh). It was the brilliance of Fairbairn which ensured that none of the elements assumed too great a role; I have seen many stand-up and sketch comedy shows in which one element (sound, lighting etc.) subsumes all others, by virtue of poor direction!

I am assured that the contents of the show, which will please all theatre-goers in its mix of traditional and experimental (prepare for some novel, and brilliant uses of costume), will evolve and change as the tour progresses. I am in no doubt that these comic talents will please far larger crowds in L.A. and Las Vegas. When Lagoon returns to Cambridge for a finale at the ADC in Michaelmas, Week 0, be sure to watch, whether or not you have seen it before – it may be very different!