Review: Never Have I Ever

Hattie Peachey 14 March 2012

Never Have I Ever

Pembroke New Cellars, 9.30pm, until Sat 17th March

Have you? Seen this show I mean? Judging by the size of last night’s audience, not many of you have. Having been promised “a brand spanking new sketch show like no other” and having followed two strangers, occasionally obscuring myself behind conveniently placed foliage, to the ridiculously hard to find Pembroke New Cellars, I was in fine spirits. Let the show begin we roared, as the projector started to whirr and the nervous-looking man on the chair removed its paper covering – the film loaded to reveal Pierre Novellie with facial hair to rival Marx, a balloon pump and a pineapple on the screen. Hurrah!

It was the great Nelly Furtado who once asked why all good things come to an end and I too found myself wondering where Liebman and Mathieson, Novellie and all the other comic greats on the screen, were that fateful night in Pembroke? Instead, on bounced a quartet of fresh, (overly) keen faces…

I squirmed nervously in my plastic school chair as that tall man (whose name was obscured by yet another strategically placed piece of paper at the end) donned an embarrassing American accent and did the ‘American Self-Help Guru’ routine. The ‘competitive wives’ sketch or the ‘ADC Audition’ sketch left me longing to make a fortress out of the empty chairs to mask my apparent distress.

The only very clever parts of this show were the clips which ran between sketches. I found myself longing for the lights to dim and the clips to start again (“Oh the YouTube generation!”) – I wanted to watch a man playing the piano with his face, I wanted to watch two people selecting brillopads in Sainsbury’s or dragging a dead body along the backs. It was just that wry Cambridge humour, what my fifteen-year-old self may have termed “random” and written in my journal. Most of all I wanted the people on the stage to stop – it wasn’t their fault, they were doing well – but Blind Date? Its 2012 – we’re not blind dating anymore, it’s a society of ‘take me out!’ immediately or forever hold your peace, or something.

As it drew to a close (it really was the briefest of shows), the final sketch was the epitome of Python-esque humour (but not the juniper berry, brave Sir Robin kind that has escaped the tyrannical hold of being ‘of its time’) and I felt wearied.

Sketch shows are notoriously hit and miss and even the Cambridge comic greats don’t, forgive me, always get it right. Some potential, but let down by a lack of imagination in the sketches themselves and an audience member with a very awkward laugh…

Hattie Peachey