LAURA PATERSON has a whale of a time with this surreal and engaging evening of comedy.
It’s tricky to give Valentine a definitive label except what it says on the tin: a variety show. Ranging from pure silliness to poignant absurdity, the show’s one constant factor was hilarity.
The intimacy of the Corpus Playroom provides no escape from audience participation, especially when there isn’t a full house and even more so when you’re sat in the front row. Waiting for the play to begin, my fellow front row seaters and I exchanged anxious glances, as we wondered who would be the first victim of public humiliation. However the small venue meant the whole theatre was constantly involved in the events on stage and contributions soon become second nature. The enthusiasm emanating from the performers was so infectious that it encouraged and reassured even the most reluctant of audience members.
The show itself kept us rushed of our feet and riveted, both guessing what the next would be and trying to work out what on earth was happening on-stage at the time. Every sketch was perfectly timed to keep us wanting more each for a split-second until our attention was grabbed by the next. When the ending suddenly came the spectators were left panting, with huge grins and bemused how almost two hours could have passed unnoticed. Valentine proved more hectic than a Cambridge term, with less essay crises, but as many existential ones.
The talented cast, with a conspicuous Footlights presence, earned constant laughs. Everything was over-the-top, with facial expressions and actions that were melodramatic to the point of being slapstick, but which proved spot-on for entertainment value. The quality of the acting twinned with the fact actors often played themselves made it difficult to distinguish the line between pretence and reality in certain scenes; even during a particularly exaggerated sketch I heard one audience member ask aloud whether the actors were for real. Likewise the friendly and informal atmosphere of the theatre gave the impression we were all part of a group of friends who were just joking around.
Although I imagine such interactive and energetic theatre is not for everyone, it was impossible not to laugh, even if it was out of pure bemusement. I can safely say that everyone left the theatre with a huge cheesy grin. Bonkers, hilarious and erupting with enthusiasm Valentine is the ideal week 6 morale booster: not to be missed.