CowsDrinkMilk

Wed 30th October – Sat 2nd November 2013

reviews

Joseph Cooper

at 09:05 on 31st Oct 2013

1agrees

2disagrees

Cows Drink Milk is hilarious, from start to finish. The moments where the audience wasn't laughing were few and far between. The sketches jumped to each other without pause, leading to a powerful tour de force upon the stage. Even the entrance of the performers had been carefully thought out, wonderfully carried out, and was exceedingly funny; it set the tone for the entire hour of the piece.

Every kind of comedy you can think of had been crammed into the script, with visual humour and use of costume, farce and pantomime, to loose references to Dickens, Shakespeare and Arthurian Legend, all in great absurdity (and several of which were surprisingly subtle – 'words, words, words'). There were many cringe-worthy moments too, with macabre, sick and twisted humour, that one cannot help but laugh at; it was all there, and it all worked. The curtain was used innovatively, and even the lighting got many laughs; the show utilised every aspect of the resources available to it, and all to great effect. The line 'you can't build an ark out of irony' still has me laughing this morning; but you probably had to be there.

Many of the jokes I saw coming from a mile away, but it didn't matter, and there were one or two odd surprises, to keep everyone on their toes. In many sketches, the use of recurring props and characters had the audience laughing before a word had been said. I think the most curious thing about the performance is the lack of decent punchlines, leading many sketches to fall flat, before being instantly saved by the next one – and, more curiously still, how little it seemed to matter. If it worked for Python, it'll work for them.

The performers (very nearly) maintained straight faces throughout; their delivery was seamless, engaging and entirely shameless, possessing that utter confidence which comedy relies upon. Even the occasional cock up was glossed over, or exploited for comic effect. The show had that wonderful mix of seeming carefully rehearsed and improvised at the same time, lending an effortlessness to their comedy. The cast worked fantastically together, and Tom Fraser is well on his way to becoming a Footlights legend.

Best of all, I left with the impression that this is only the start. A few sketches could be refined, the delivery made a touch more consistent. In terms of material, it was original and brilliantly funny. This is a fantastic team that is set to only get better, and I really can't wait to see what they come up with next.

agree
disagree

Jack Pulman-Slater

at 09:09 on 31st Oct 2013

0agrees

0disagrees

CowsDrinkMilk burst onto the Cambridge theatre scene last June with their celebrated ‘Smashed Shakespeare: Hammered Hamlet’ production and now they’re bringing a sketch show to the ADC. It’s not your ordinary Cambridge sketch show, consisting of the same old ADC faces receiving unwarranted amounts of laughter from their predominantly friends-from-college-audience as they spew up a narcissistic selection of rot their parents have told them is funny. This is a fresh, dynamic series of sketches. It’s got the right amount of slapstick and linguistic sharpness. We’re presented with a cocaine making nun, a Dickensian Mr Wippy, a romance between Satan and the Pope, and the recurring theme of pumpkins, babies and Alan Yentob. There are no obvious jokes in this show. Nothing is predictable about it and it’s funny in and of itself, you’ll find no attempts at satire or impersonations of celebrities. It’s just Pete Skidmore and Oliver Marsh’s own original humorous material. Jokes aren't “cracked” in it, there aren't really any catchy punch lines- it’s all a bit cleverer than that. When there are cheap gags, they’re delivered in such a self-aware way that they become genuinely funny. This is original comedy, and whilst essentially being a sketch show, still manages to present the jokes in a fresh and new format. It’s not just a random sequence of jokey scenes; some thought has obviously gone into the order and into how the show looks as a whole.

The members of the cast form an amazing team; they’re all individually funny and even funnier in unison. Tom Fraser seems capable of effortlessly making the audience laugh by simply raising an arm or putting on a coat. His conscience-stricken director and charlatan nursery worker characters are hilarious. There is unfortunately some occasionally poor projection from the actors and lapses in their otherwise excellent timing mean some jokes are lost. The pace and humour of the scenes usually doesn’t extend to their endings, and many vignettes just fizzle out, inducing a delayed audience response. Having said that it’s undeniable that Skidmore and Marsh have written some very funny stuff for this show. It’s a really fresh take on a sketch show as every aspect of the auditorium is mined for comic output, the actors are in the wings, in the seats, in the lighting box and the lighting itself is used in an clever but simple way.

Unfortunately the beginning and end of the show does not do justice to the piece as a whole.The show takes a few minutes to get going, with the beginning seeming directionless, random and pointless. The end is a sort of comic meta-end that falls flat on its face and sadly doesn't induce many laughs. However, overall if you fancy seeing a late show this term, this has definitely got to be the one you go and see.

Aside from the poor beginning and end it’s a genuinely funny and clever show. It does what it says on the tin: combines ‘highly-honed comedy with original electro-swing sounds by Red Violin’. Skidmore and Marsh should feel quietly smug. CowsDrinkMilk is different and its emergence into the world of Cambridge Theatre is welcome and overdue.

agree
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