Review: Good For You
LOTTIE UNWIN: ‘With a bit of re-writing and a heavy dose of T.L.C who knows what this show might become.’
Tuesday 8th – Saturday 19th June, 7.45 at The ADC, with matinees on Saturday 12th and 19th at 2.30. £6-9.
Directed by Liam Williams and Daran Johnson.
As the Footlights put it, last night was ‘your first chance to see the show before it heads off around England, up to the Edinburgh festival, and, for the first time in decades, over to the good old U.S. of America, before heading back home to the ADC Theatre to kick off the Autumn Season.’ That means two things. Firstly, it will get better and secondly, it bloody ought to be good.
Afterwards, in the bar, there were many theories attempting to explain the underwhelming opening night. "They have to take it to America, you know", said one. "The humour (or humor?) is different over there". "These things always get better by Edinburgh", mumured another. Both, to an extent, are entirely true: Yanks are, on the whole, baffled by British comedy, and by the time this rolls back to the ADC in the autumn – or even by next week – this review may be totally obsolete. But tonight, 'Good For You' simply wasn't that good.
With one of the most favourable audiences the tour will ever see, the safe sketches were treated to a warm response. Whilst the opening few minutes – a telepathic man playing poker – utilised a cleverly-done voice-over, the punch line wasn’t worth the set up. A sketch based around a ‘magic portal’ or in fact, wardrobe, was among a number that were almost family friendly. Of course filth isn’t always funny, but it might help garner an honest laugh.
The second half was a whole lot better; more intelligent, imaginative and brave. A short film mocking Hitler was a welcome slap in the face a few minutes in. Yes, we might hate it, but finally those hailed as the next big names in comedy were taking a risk. ‘MTV Law’, where criminals are condemned by game show contestants, is sheer brilliance and the show's refreshing use of only one repeated motif is a great one. It's a full blown four part harmony, but I won’t spoil your fun with the details.
Perhaps in time the Footlights will once again ‘display a polish in their interaction with each other, and their delivery is hard to fault’, as the Edinburgh Fringe Guide raved, but at the moment, it’s a very long way off. The cast were a bit out at sea with a script that didn’t give them enough to get the laughs. Instead, they were falling back on big gestures and writhing facial expressions to ham up the humour, and shatter any subtlety. Sometimes, it was as though the joke rested on the consciously bad acting, sacrificing any attempt at characterisation. It’s not as though an individual let the talented bunch down, but rather that the direction was dulling them down.
The feeling that I was being rubbed up the wrong way wouldn’t pass. Perhaps indicative of this was the inexplicable decision to repeat Passion Pit’s Little Secrets throughout the interval. I counted five times.
A particular 'Freeze' sketch has been slicker in Smokers before, showing that things will get better, but also how this week's paying audience are seeing something that is not up to scratch. Ultimately, "I am on the Banter Express from Drugstown, next stop, Off-My-Tits-Ville", sums up what is right and wrong about Good for You. Like so much of the night it was worthy of a chuckle, but gave no reason to double you up. With a bit of re-writing and a heavy dose of T.L.C., who knows what this show might become.