Footlights Presents: Bread

Wed 25th – Sat 28th January 2017

reviews

Clare Cavenagh

at 19:26 on 26th Jan 2017

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Bread has become, for many of us (disclaimer: not me) a guilty pleasure. We know now of the detrimental effects that its soft white comfort can have upon our bodies, minds and indeed souls. I can confidently assert that the Footlights' latest offering, while sharing a name with that long time staple of civilisation, does not share any of its risks. Unfortunately, this show also lacked a little of the excitement we all felt, noses pressed against the bakery windows, in the heady days before gluten became evil. But laughs certainly were had, and you could do a lot worse than this show.

Bread began the way it continued: with sketches which were charming, eccentric, often funny, but often a little obtuse, or simply a little lacklustre. Two of the longest running jokes in the show seemed not quite funny or interesting enough to merit their recurrences. One, which revolved around James Coward playing a man with an unfortunate linguistic tick, and Eve Delaney as his long-suffering girlfriend, felt as though it had perhaps seemed more funny on paper than it did onstage. Another, concerned with highlighting the method-acting skills of Three Time Oscar Winner Daniel Day Lewis, seemed as though it had potential to be seat-wettingly funny, but came across as a little underdeveloped in performance. Although Rufus McAlister's forward-rolling stage exists were irresistibly amusing in their wilful oddness.

The show had its high moment too however. One of the standout sketches featured Eve Delaney as a student arriving at a lecture, crippled by the thought that she might have left an inappropriate website open on her laptop, liable to broadcast itself to the whole lecture theatre the minute she dared to open her laptop. This sketch also showcased one of the strengths of the show's writing: the ability to seemingly allow a scene to paint itself into a corner, before taking a turn for the surreal, and sidestepping the whole issue. This was equally demonstrated by another sketch featuring Rhiannon Shaw as an unfortunate climber, stuck on a mountain because the rescue helicopter is occupied with a Domino's run. Will Hall also put in a highly amusing performance as a bemused actor in audition, which recalled almost all of the dodgy drama classes I've ever witnessed.

Bread, although palatable, pleasing and often pleasurable, with a cast who all produced some wonderful moments, assured direction brining plenty of visual interest, and some nice use of video, ultimately felt a little unsatisfying. Much like a loaf which hasn't been knocked back properly before the second rising, this show had more than a couple of air pockets. Although the dough itself was good, the finished product might have merited a little more elbow grease in the preparation. But for an evening of guilt-free wheat flour product, Bread is far from being a failure.

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