Footlights Spring Revue 2014: The History of Everything

OJ WATSON is impressed with this consistent and well constructed Spring Revue.

ADC Ben Pope Comedy Footlights hunter allen jamie fraser oliver taylor Spring Revue

The History of Everything is a challenging concept – a chronological series of sketches detailing the major historical events from the Big Bang to the invention of time travel  – but the cast and writers pulled it off.

Firstly let me congratulate all those involved for wanting to undertake what could have gone horribly wrong. That may sound like a bizarre compliment, but upon realising five minutes in that I was to be treated to an hour or so of brief comedic history lessons I was scared that it would become too predictable. This concern was short-lived, however, as the contrast between the longer sketches and the one line puns kept the storyline bouncing along. This was helped as well by the voiceovers and the beautifully simple use of a projected calendar year  to signpost the journey and keep the audience’s attention.

Spring revue

Naturally some sketches were more effective than others, with Alex MacKeith’s portrayal of a T-Rex attempting to be taught correct elocution and table manners being surprisingly effective for its simplicity.  This opening history lesson set the tone for the style of comedy to be experienced; sketches about a vegetarian Simba and the invention of the CD were early highlights, with consistently good scenes from Oliver Taylor whose comic timing on the night was perfect.

The performers were all strong, but particular mention must go to Ben Pope and Jamie Fraser who delivered consistently throughout, with Ben channelling a Blackadder Goes Forth-esque performance during his faked connection problems when ending a long term relationship over Skype. It would also be unfair to not mention Archie Henderson who  stepped in last minute and delivered, alongside Oliver Taylor, easily the most entertaining sketch of the night as travelling minstrels. I would rather not give too much away, but their rap duo as “Gawain + Little G” was superb.

The revue’s ability to exhibit such a bizarre set of sketches that flowed seamlessly with the underlying plot was very impressive. However, the ending prevented this from being a 5* show. Throughout the sketches we were “treated” to James Bloor chasing after a banana across the stage at seemingly random times: despite intriguing the audience, these events were poorly linked to any of the sketches and often created some fairly awkward closing lines. This would have been fine if these occurrences were leading to a finale that succinctly and comically tied the show to an end. The banana plot line, however, didn’t do this for me, and it was all too similar to Steven Moffat’s explanation of Clara Oswald’s identity in Doctor Who. Chatting to other members of the audience afterwards (some of whom have never watched Doctor Who), I found I was not alone in my sense of disappointment with regards to the ending.

The banana saga aside, this was a thoroughly enjoyable show, and certainly well worth getting a ticket if you can. Congratulations again to The Footlights for this uniform bag of hilarious sketches.

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And for those of you unable to make the show, here is a video vaguely resembling some of the content in the show. Filmed by Hunter Allen.