Footlights Spring Revue 2014: The History of Everything

Tue 4th – Sat 8th March 2014

reviews

Christy Edwall

at 09:46 on 5th Mar 2014

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The Footlights Spring Revue, 'The History of Everything', is a tremendously tight show. Under the guise of teaching an ignorant young woman about history from its inception (incidentally, the only female who appears in the production), the revue sprints from the Big Bang to the twenty-first century via semi-articulate dinosaurs, cavemen, biblical history, the Norman invasion, medieval rap, the inquisition, the Tudors, an Austen-like epistolary romance, and the twentieth century, all sewn together by a time-travelling banana.

Making use of classic resources of British wit – most notably a strong and pervading debt to Monty Python – and unafraid of exploiting a range of camp, the writing is clever and the delivery quick. The moments when the actors get the comic timing spot-on makes one realise just how perilous comedy is; how it depends on the lynchpin of a second, or a stutter, to fall this side or that of its intentions. Where one skit might prolong itself by a minute, or another might lose its effect in a slow reply, the majority of the skits were strong, and were supported by the charisma and chemistry of the comedians. The dryness of Alex MacKeith, who performed a velociraptor impression second to none (and I count myself an expert), was a particular favourite. Ryan Ammar brought down the house as a sweet-faced but foulmouthed regency heroine alongside a lisping Ben Pope, who has a gift for playing winning vapidity.

The audience was hungry for political comment, and perked up at an early remark about data collection, at those concerning Blair and Bush, and, later on, at the Footlights’ take on Putin’s misunderstood relationship to homosexuality.

'The History of Everything' is a generous production which makes ninety minutes, as well as ostensibly thousands of years of history, pass in a flash. Despite a few hiccups – which prove a performance excellent if only because the high standard it’s set for itself isn’t quite reached – the revue is a riotously silly tour through the ages. And if the enthusiastic applause was anything to go by, the latest Footlights offering is a hit.

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