Dead Fresh

Mon 11th – Thu 21st August 2014

reviews

Flo Layer

at 21:54 on 18th Aug 2014

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It’s said to be the biggest and wildest week of your life: plentiful drink, greasy food, and an abundance of small talk with nervous students - a typical university freshers' week. With such shows as Fresh Meat and The Secret Life of Students clogging up television sets across the nation, it’s a sensationalist topic which has had more than its fair share of comic attention.

However, it means that the majority of the jokes that made up Z Theatre Company’s show Dead Fresh have been told and re-told a million times before, and it’s a shame that the writers couldn’t seem to come up some brand new or original material other than that which has been circulating around like a stale smell for far too long.

Switching between the kitchen and student bedroom, the show revolved around the issues of meeting new friends, binge drinking, confronting drugs and dealing with a corpse. This might have been a suitably dark enough theme to make the show memorable and fairly funny, however each character was too flat to deal with dark humour effectively and the acting didn’t do much to carry it through.

The list of characters indulges all too heavily in stereotype as the group is formed of a drug taking Gap Yah student, a virginal innocent biology student, a loud mouth binger, a naive international student and scantily clad arts student. While the distressed gasping of Sarah (Lucy Walker), who featured at the centre of the plot was initially convincing it quickly became repetitive and laboured, while the diva style protestations of Louise (Meera Palmer) also became pretty tiring.

Jamie Cook portrayed Phil, the ‘resident druggie’ with a certain extravagant Jim Carey excessiveness which was well suited to his character. However, as he continued to make himself laugh and lose face throughout the show, it only added to an amateurish atmosphere. Similarly, the ‘lad’ feat of downing a whole milkshake was just one of the moments which felt fairly unnecessary and missed the mark.

The entire cast demonstrated an admirable youthful enthusiasm and no doubt had the abilities to deliver a successful show, yet their characters had no depth and lacked conviction which felt entirely inconsistent with the dark theme of the whole comedy. If this show relied less on worn-out freshers jokes and showcased more interesting characters that we haven’t seen in all too many other cultural references to student life, it might have redeemed itself.

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Rowena Henley

at 10:36 on 19th Aug 2014

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Dead Fresh is a comedy show of new writing from Hull University. The idea behind this performance (a fresher flat dealing with a dead corpse under one of their beds) had promise, but the execution completely and utterly missed the mark.

The first crippling flaw in this show was the acting. There were, at a stretch, one or two moments of believability but other than that it was truly abysmal. The pinnacle of which had to be one scene depicting a (pretty raucous!) student party. Bottles of Barcadi Breezer were being swigged left, right and centre (despite being quite clearly empty due to a lack of logic from the crew that, in-keeping with their attempt at ‘realism’, they needed to fill the bottles with a substance before they can become fully-functional props). The actors’ attempt at ‘drunken stupor’ was appalling. I think, considering their ages seemed to range between 18 and 22, they probably could have come up with something better than falling over and laughing a lot. I would genuinely advise this cast to make a few trips to Sh*tfaced Shakespeare and learn what ‘drunk’ actually looks like.

The storyline was just about bearable. The university caricatures, however, were not. We had: the nervous one, the bitchy one, the posh one and the druggy one. These guys should write an E4 comedy show! Oh, wait…

The only imaginative character seemed to be our resident German. At least this is not something you see in every university-related production. And yet, as the show progressed (and a bit of multi role-ing came into play), I learnt that this originality was purely down to the fact that the actor was German. His character served little purpose beyond reciting a few misplaced and uncomfortable Nazi jokes.

If I had to clutch at straws, I would say that there were a few sporadic moments where the writing identified laughable elements of freshers' week, one being a conversation between two girls who promised each other they would be “best friends forever, not just for freshers.” I have to admit that this did remind me of a few instances during my own freshers experience. But, considering this show branded itself as a ‘dark comedy’, it was severely lacking in the comedy part. And, to be honest, it wasn’t all that dark either.

Dead Fresh is most definitely a working progress. There is a small flicker of hope that, with a great deal more practice and ingenuity, this show could transform itself from a GCSE piece to a respectable Edinburgh Fringe one. That day, however, seems a long, long way off.

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