EFR - Reviews of Going Straight

Going Straight

Thu 31st July – Sun 24th August 2014

reviews

Xavier Greenwood

at 02:28 on 4th Aug 2014

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With audience members settling down at the start of ‘Going Straight’ to the music of Allegri’s choral work ‘Miserere Mei Deus‘, they might be forgiven for not realising that they were about to watch a sketch show, at the heart of which lies the Church of Clarkstianity, and its leader’s ‘Six Steps to Normality’, the church’s only sure-fire way of curing homosexuality. Gut-wrenchingly funny, absolutely engaging, and performed with boundless energy by the highly likeable Rob Cawsey and Gabe Bisset-Smith, ‘Going Straight’ is a hilarious but meaningful satire of lad culture, religious cults, homophobic micro-aggressions and Jeremy Clarkson.

Gabe, recently initiated into the cult of Clarkstianity after a chance encounter with a familiar stranger in a Mercedes SLR, begins the show by moving through the audience handing out blue caps of masculinity and tiaras of femininity to the respective sexes – we are ourselves initiated into the cult and become accessories to Gabe’s indoctrinated ways, predicated on a barely-suppressed sexual encounter with an enigmatic blonde, which occurred with the musical milieu of the Bee Gees’ disco classic, ‘More Than A Woman’.

Whilst it is important to mention that the sound effect cues are timed to perfection throughout, it is the soundtrack itself which steals the show, containing tracks ranging from ‘Take My Breath Away’ (and indeed that most famous of cultists, Tom Cruise, himself makes a cameo appearance) to most of the Elton John back-catalogue to the theme tune to ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’. Such a track list acts as a musical accompaniment to funerals, simulated fellatio scenes, and the ‘History of Man’ as told by a Top Gear presenter, and never feels out of place.

Whilst audience participation is a regular feature of the performance, it is never gimmicky and never an uncomfortable experience, as it can be. In any case, even outside of any audience involvement, Rob and Gabe are completely engaging through their own effortless chemistry, facial expressions, comic timing, and the strength of the script itself. Though there are mini-sketches within the show, they all form part of a clear narrative arc, which culminates in a hilarious but poignant ending – who knew that the line “I like it when you dress up as Elton John” could be so touching?

It is rare to see a sketch show which so deftly couples laugh-out-loud humour with the sense of an underlying serious message, but Rob and Gabe succeed in doing this and more, delivering a rip-roaring performance. Put on your tiaras of abnormality and go see it.

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Ellie Taylor

at 03:03 on 4th Aug 2014

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Guilt and Strange made me laugh so hard today I almost did a little wee. Rob Cawsey and Gabe Bisset-Smith began as they meant to go on: as offensively as possible. As soon as we came in, audience members were issued with pink and blue caps to signal their gender – and naturally to make everyone look funny. Women were gently teased initially, but they were not the target of the evening’s ridicule. As suggested by the title, it was gay people, to be precise gay men that were subjected to the relentless pursuit of the duo. To be precise, it was Gabe that was doing the pursuing, while Rob was the primary victim as a ‘reforming’ gay.

As a follower of Clarkstianity, Gabe harboured a deep abhorrence for all things gay – things such as masturbation and using a straw. Clarkson’s teachings stated that there are six steps available to overcome homosexuality, ranging from bar banter to the drastically more dangerous electro shock therapy. Outrageous simply does not cover it, and it did not stop there. They could not have chosen a better figurehead for this new religion; the idea Jeremy Clarkson as the archetypal ‘manly man’ was both hilariously ironic and in some stereotyped ways, partially true.

Although it didn't have to be in order to get laughs, the story line was gripping in itself. From the outset, the audience are eager to learn the answers to the questions such as 'who was Rob’s midnight princess?', and 'what had pushed Gabe to such extreme homophobia?' When the answers to these questions were revealed, what we heard was cleverer and funnier than we could imagine. Add a few classic pop songs with accompanying dances to this compelling narrative and you have got yourself a happy audience.

Despite all of the wonderfully random things that occurred during the sixty minutes, the show was obviously well planned and perfectly timed. This was most apparent in the audience interaction, which was refreshing because its aim was not to make those singled out uncomfortable – it made the whole performance easier to enjoy because I did not have to sit through it, scared in the knowledge that I was one of very few audience members with pink caps on near the front.

This sketch show had everything: the pair sung, they danced, they entered the inner recesses of their mind to confront their inner demons, they gave imaginary blow jobs.You are almost too busy laughing to realise that this insane show also has a more serious undercurrent, in which attitudes to sexuality, radical religion and even the importance of words are questioned and challenged . Almost, but not quite. I came out of the show tonight with two free hats, a belly sore from laughing and a deep appreciation of the genius that is this show.

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