Footlights Presents 2013: Lost Property

A solid night of comedy from the Footlights, writes ABI BENNETT.

ADC Theatre, 11.00pm, Wed 20th – Sat 23rd February, £6/£5

Arriving at the ADC in the midst of a swirl of rumours about the Footlights Spring Revue, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this “Footlights Present:” show. Luckily, my fears were confounded with a night of strong, clever comedy.

The best sketches were those based on a simple but clever “what if?” premise. The idea of WWI soldiers who had accidently ended up in the wrong trench was excellent, and as the set-up dawned on the audience, you could hear the laughter rolling around the theatre, bursting and popping, until it reached a crescendo of hilarity. Continuing with the military theme, the sketch that asked what would happen if chess were used in real life battle tactics was very well received, with the premise strong enough not to require any superfluous props or gags. Sketches that took something metaphorical and made it real, like the egg metaphors in an egg-selling business, were also very strong. It was notable that the best sketches of the night were the ones that required no props or voiceover effects, with just two actors on an unadorned stage.

There were flashes of brilliance when the show became self-referential, like when a sketch about knocking down children (not as grim as it sounds) turned into a mock-dressing down from the actors for finding such material funny, which in turn became a mini-sketch about possible ideas for sketches. These ideas were excellently executed, and got some of the biggest laughs of the night.

Unfortunately, the worse sketches of the show were those linked to the title. Sketches set in the eponymous lost property office were peppered throughout the show, and just weren’t as strong as the surrounding material. It seemed as though they had decided the show needed a recurring theme, but the idea of the lost property office simply wasn’t substantial enough to justify the amount of sketches they tried to get out of it.

Oliver Taylor and Matilda Wnek shone in all their sketches, with self-assured and stylish performances. Jon Bailey and Simon Copley were less confident to begin with, some nerves betraying themselves in fluffed lines and awkward movements, but they soon relaxed and warmed up. Hopefully any initial stiffness was just due to first night nerves, and their performances to come will be as assured as they were by the end of the night.

Lost Property might not set your world on fire, but it did deliver on the laughs. If you fancy a night of solid, well-done comedy, you could do much worse than head down to the ADC this week.