SOPHIE BAUER is wandering around in a cheerful haze after the godfathers of the Footlights treat her to a stream-of consciousness sketch show.
ADC Theatre, Wednesday 2nd February, 11pm, £4-£6
I had been jealously guarding these tickets for a while. I warded off all possible competitors with feigned of lateshow disdain and my ‘run-of-the mill Footlights hierarchy’ chat. The last time I witnessed Ben Ashenden, Alex Owen and Mark Fiddaman together they made my Michaelmas with their exceptional Good.Clean.Men. Now, replete with marvellously boastful poster (‘Brilliant’, ‘Inspired’, ‘A cut above the rest’) and even more impressive comedy CV, I could only hope they hadn’t slid into smug self-awareness. But sheer quality it was, living up to the hype with ease. After a shaky first few minutes it quickly settled into an immaculate, professional, and slick creation. Although it was sometimes prone to loss of momentum, I can’t recommend it highly enough.
I won’t sully the plot’s meticulous construction by attempting to summarize it in a bodged soliloquy of incoherence. Let’s just quote the good old ADC and agree that this is ‘a stream-of-consciousness sketch show about the little things that get out of hand.’ The magnificent trio’s world of javelins, nun-chucks, horse-abusing rahs, tapas bars, chess pieces, pastoral art scenes and launderettes was effortlessly built, the audience smoothly careered through their hilarious maze of random chain reactions.
As you would expect from their track record, all three gave knockout performances: Mark Fiddaman’s host of Pythonesque accents and psychopath-meets-schoolboy demeanor was played out in full for his creepily camp German-charged-with-embezzlement. It was a joy to witness Ben Ashenden’s glorious, nay – poetic physicality put to use in his warped self-defence instructor. At one point he even stood on a pedestal so that we could all bask in the perfection of his proportions. As for Alex Owen, no one else delivers The Pin’s vast quantity of groan-inducing puns quite like he does. Nor, I might add, can anyone pull off the role of a gay homophobe like he can either.
Praise should also go to the production team of Tony Dent, Phil Yeeles and Henry Staples for the well timed and chosen sound and lighting and the ease of the transitions. They were invaluable in maintaining the pace of the trio’s writing, and allowed the dynamism of their performances to proceed unfettered by technicality.
I came out of the ADC in a cheerful haze. Marvellous performances all round; delivered with the professionalism and confidence you expect from some of the best of Footlights. They’re performing until Saturday 5th, definitely worth the £4, so get your good self down there for some fabulous funnies.