Tue 21st – Sat 25th October 2014


Catherine Foot

at 10:53 on 22nd Oct 2014



My advice to anyone going to watch ‘Pelican’ is to expect everything and anything to happen. Helen Charman directs an utterly bizarre and joyously creative production that is an experience in its own right rather than your conventional series of skits. As a result, I left the Corpus Playroom still giggling and very aware of the fact that I had just witnessed the most original sketch show I have seen in Cambridge so far.

The audience entered the Corpus Playroom to interrupt what initially appeared to be a surreal group therapy session in which the actors/writers were sat onstage, drawing and framed by projections of flying pelicans on the set walls. I don’t think it’s possible to describe this in a way that sounds less bizarre and the show rarely shifts from this surreal tone. ‘Pelican’ is infused with a childlike energy as reflected by the assortment of lovably infantile animal drawings covering the set. Watching the show, it is difficult for the audience not to be won over by the enthusiastic performances. Getting involved with the show is equally rewarding, (and believe me, there are multiple opportunities to take part.)

Most of the sketches were masterfully performed and executed with unwavering energy. Ranging from nature mockumentary to poking fun at the UN, each topic was original and witty. The audience were treated to witnessing the awkward logistics of a naked pantomime-horse dance routine, as well as a re-shuffling of the Beatles line-up featuring Jesus Christ himself. In amongst the witty and original skits were interspersed the slightly clichéd self-referential sketch-show writing jokes, including ‘The gags that didn’t quite cut it’ vignettes towards the end of the show. Yet even these are difficult to criticise; I’d have been curious to see a hypothetical depiction of the married life of Mark and Shania Twain as well as Robert Mugabe ‘learning to love’.

It was evident that the best sketches by far involved the entire ensemble. These performers complimented each other’s comedic styles wonderfully whilst standing out as individual artists. Theo Wethered is a wonderfully dry foil to Sam Grabiner’s irresistible cheekiness whilst Guy Emmanuel radiates adorable nerdiness. Jordan Mitchell delivers his performance with droll flair (and makes a worryingly seductive vampire walrus). This is an ensemble that works so cohesively that it is impossible to choose a standout performer and that is definitely one of the best things about this production. It’s clear that these guys clearly love each other a lot and the fruits of their combined comic talent and inventiveness result in a truly original and simply hilarious show.

So if you’re looking for a hilariously crazed evening of surreal comedy, or even spiritual enlightenment as part of a shamanistic ritual, I highly recommend you spend some time in their company by going to see and partake in ‘Pelican’. As the guys point out at the end; ‘it was fun’. It really, really was.


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