EFR - Reviews of I Would: a hypothetical sketch show

I Would: a hypothetical sketch show

Wed 5th – Mon 31st August 2015

reviews

Benjie Beer

at 11:15 on 15th Aug 2015

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At the very start of the show the audience enter to ‘I’m Going Solo’ and are immediately informed by the cast of three that they are all very much single.The theme of I Would: a hypothetical sketch show is becomes unabashedly clear: dating, relationships, how we view ourselves and what we do for other people. The following hour of sketch comedy then proves to be witty and entertaining, if possibly a little undercooked in places and ultimately lacking that star sheen.

No Mean Feet, downsized from last year’s Fringe production of The Canon: A Literary Sketch Show in which there were six performers, dart from sketch to sketch with dips into the prurient, the faintly silly and the totally raucous. Although they often play near or on the line of absurdity, they rarely stray very far from it. Catriona Stirling, Georgia Wagstaff and David Matthews put in very entertaining turns as a variety of bizarre characters, but they never quite manage to break the glass ceiling of excellence.

Although this show is very enjoyable and one which exhibits flashes of comic brilliance in places, particularly when they indulge in the absurd, these three Cambridge students too often revert to the tired sketch territory of game-shows, performance poetry and less than groundbreaking audience participation. This would certainly be fine if they did it in a novel or exciting way, but they don’t, and the show never kicks out of 3rd gear as a result. Their ideas are sound and their acting performances are excellent and highly endearing, but there is not enough original thinking. The pace is mostly good, although occasionally lagging, and there is a good amount of quality sketches and variety -ranging from French film noir, dates with the audience to couples discussing their fascination with chickens – but the show is like early spring rather than summer. Funny and worthwhile, but not especially exciting or memorable.

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Genevieve Cox

at 13:07 on 15th Aug 2015

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Fast-paced, flowing, flirtatious, funny and ‘fucking fantastic’! This hypothetical sketch-show centred upon the singleton’s struggle for sex with its three actors who would do anything for love, demonstrating their desperate attempts at “dating, relationships and things they do for other people” to create a collection of witty and amusing sketches linked by these fundamental elements.

This is a star performance by No Mean Feet, who manage to merge a variety of acts, settings, characters and techniques into the conventional sketch-show format. They established and maintained a fun ambiance, encouraged by an outrageously enthusiastic and willing audience who served as the ultimate measure of this comic success.

Under the theme of what we would do for love, clever scripting manipulated a variety of acts – from M&S S&M adverts, singing interludes, read-aloud excerpts of child’s poetry and ‘Paige Turner’s’ erotic and innuendo-ridden fiction to reimagined scenes from The Famous Five and gameshow extracts – with a variety of techniques – music and their relevant lyrics, puns, mimes, accents and facial expressions. Like a love potion, this sketch-show incorporated all the necessary ingredients and anticipated comic flavours of the sketch-show stereotype yet also seduced the audience with its originality and refreshing zest.

Despite containing inevitable clichés of the form and genre, this innovative sketch-show managed to reinvigorate past example to phenomenal effect. However, it could sometimes be considered dangerously experimental. The conducting of and entire sketch in French (for example), for a non-French-speaker, could potentially cause confusion and limit comprehensible enjoyment thus edging into boredom. Moreover some longer sketches grew self-indulgent, were overly long, dragged and lost the necessity of the form’s fast pace

Yet despite these slight flaws, this ‘hypothetical’ sketch-show strayed successfully past boring boundaries into the exciting unexpected – especially in its rendition of the classic game-show sketch that turned to involve the audience. Initiating in group pantomimic integration: ”I’d do anything for love...” – “but I won’t do that!”, audience participation moved to specific involvement of a couple, testing the extents of their love! Audience participation was well-employed and its later relevance reinvigorated with the reworking of personal information to allow for further comic indulgence in the show’s penultimate sketch.

The final sketch, creating a medley of Richard Curtis films and their recurrent romantic portrayals, served as self-referential success as the intermingling of diverse, individualised content under the theme of love to similar effect. Just as Curtis successfully creates and portrays romance themes in widely-ranging contexts, so did this production integrate multiple sketches under the name of what “I would” do for love to produce a witty love potion. This show seduces its audience and leaves them with a smile sketched irresistibly upon their faces!

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