Footlights Spring Revue: Behind Closed Doors

Tue 21st – Sat 25th February 2017

reviews

Cameron Wallis

at 10:53 on 22nd Feb 2017

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The Cambridge Footlights Spring Revue 2017: Behind Closed Doors contains some extremely memorable, 5 star performances, but also a number of uninspired and/or badly performed sketches.

The set design by Samantha Ruston — 10 personalised doors (and Adam Woolf’s trap door) — is simple but effective, the actors making the most of it on a number of occasions, including a particularly hilarious mime featuring Sam Knights as a door-to-door preacher.

Knights steals the show each time he walks on stage with his twitchy, wide-eyed, vein-popping facial expressions. His initial sketch on double-glazing has audience members in stitches. His satires on Conservative supporters are cutting, but always well-balanced by him also poking light fun at Liberalists. Riss Obolensky and he star in a rollicking sketch involving much political irony and much apple pie. Perhaps the most hilarious sketch of all is his video-game sketch, involving audience participation. At this point, Enrico Hallworth deserves a mention for his hysterical acting as the audience member’s avator, and presumably lightning quick running when Knights ‘resets’ the game.

Dillon Mapletoft, Footlights President, performs in the standout solo sketch, about a playwright whose own writings cause him to suffer existential crises. His reading of the first few scenes of his new, avant-garde play, which featured more geese than anyone expected, utterly broke the audience.

Haydn Jones and Mark Bittlestone’s moments of meta-theatre to begin the second-half are excellent — knocking a startled Orlando Gibbs to the floor, spilling a glass of beer belonging to an unsuspecting audience member.

Ruby Keane and Luisa Callander feature alongside Obolensky in a sketch they are keen to mention is the first to feature three women on stage at once in a Spring Revue. While the lines of this sketch are well-written, their delivery falls a bit flat. Keane and Callander also perform together in a well-written sketch about misconceptions about ghosts — which for no apparent reason, other than that it is amusing, is performed with northern accents. Again, while the writing was good, the delivery is not particularly strong.

A few stand-out moments make the show worth seeing, though there are a fair number of rather bland sketches that fall short. For example, Gibbs’ sketch delivered in an unidentifiable foreign accent is performed a little too fast to let the audience pick up on the subtleties of his jokes. Similarly, a couple of vampire sketches featuring Keane and then Woolf and Hallworth are amusing but not particularly mind-blowing.

The performance has smooth transitions between sketches by drummer Oliver Vibrans. Directors Lily Lindon and Lucy Moss deserve mention for the overall flow of the show, which is coherent and clever — particularly the final scene involving the failed establishment of a Footlights hierarchy. This year's Spring Revue has plenty of light touches, a handful of excellent sketches, but a fair few forgettable skits too.

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