Dream Sequence

Tue 13th – Sat 24th June 2017

reviews

Clare Cavenagh

at 10:14 on 15th Jun 2017

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The Cambridge Footlights represent a tradition as old as a tree which is 134 years old, and their summer show is as reliable an indicator of the end of exams as the stickiness of cava-drenched pavements. Dream Sequence, this year's incarnation, directed by Ellie Warr, lives up to its name with a rapid-fire succession of sketches which range from the political to the sentimental, to the downright absurd. There are plenty of laughs, and most of the sketches are very strong. It's definitely worth going along.

One of the best aspects of the show was its range, with sketches covering school memories, politics, the black death, and Desert Island Discs. There was some brilliant physical comedy from Henry Wilkinson, both as a man who uses gestures to tell stories who ends up recounting the tale of a particularly harrowing kayak trip through mime and screams alone, and also as a married man who misunderstands the meaning of 'sexual roleplay' (John Tothill, playing his wife, shouts 'it doesn't mean impressions!').

Tothill himself did an excellent job in a sketch which gave him the opportunity to do a lengthy and impressively accurate impression of Alan Bennett, trying to record sound for film trailers but fundamentally obsessed with The Lady in the Van. He was also great in a sketch about that most trying aspect of a school trip: the coach ride. High praise must go to his flawless demonstration of 'bus arms'.

Ania Magliano-Wright was great in a monologue delivered by the student-rep to the incumbent freshers of a reception class, letting them in on the pleasures and pitfalls of this new phase of their lives and ending her tirade with a memorable Capri-Sun drop. She was also very funny as the hapless Wormtail, trying to suggest ways to alleviate the Dark Lord's boredom.

Ruby Keane did a great job in a wonderful sketch which presented a speech given to the year fours by some boys from big school about their work experience day, during which she and Sam Knights 'went par-li-a-ment'. Their increasingly surreal experiences there, alongside their tour guide Diana Abbott, and an improbable number of Ed Millibands stood out as one of the best moments of the show.

Sam Knights also did an excellent job, perhaps most memorably in his hilarious and very energetic depiction of the joy of warm copies. Knights's pleasure at the feel of the gently heated paper against his skin went beyond all measure or proportion only to descend into feelings of loss and regret as they cooled. We've all been there, but very few of us have been there with as much conviction, or as much ensuing hilarity, as Knights.

One of my very favourite moments brought the whole cast together in the Ukip Dance, an attempt by the struggling party to become more in touch with their more youthful potential voters. The dance combined all of the best aspects of the show: it was clever and witty, very well performed, but it was also desperately weird. The Footlights don't disappoint this year. Their sketches are a balm for a chaotic and disastrous world. They'll take you back to your childhood, they'll challenge (what might be) your political foes, and they provide dreamlike, hallucinatory bouts of utter silliness to carry you away from reality.

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