Review: Booby – A Sketch Show

OWEN BRAY is impressed by this ambitious sketch show, which lives up to its high expectations.

ADC ADC theatre ADC theatre cambridge Adrian Gray archie henderson booby cambridge footlights Footlights oliver taylor sketch show

Comprising three comedians with such excellent track records, the bizarrely-titled Booby provided an inevitable sense of intrigue. This made the show’s three-night run at the beginning of week eight all the more surprising.

What followed did not disappoint.

Booby is well-rounded and accessible, whilst delightfully ambitious. Sketches were varied in both content and style, with a rewarding combination of satire and physical comedy as well as those which took a darker, more surreal turn.

From basic props and sheets of paper, to the clever use of technology, a range of vehicles were utilised alongside the cast’s talents to provide hilarious sketches which often kept the audience guessing until the very end.

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Alongside highly original pieces, the trio employed a number of surprisingly common devices.

Time travel and pausing/re-winding sketch elements are possibly the two most overused tropes in Cambridge sketch comedy, and their introduction at times provoked an inevitable sense of surprise.

This made the clever ways in which they were deployed and the humour within all the more impressive. Whether intentional or not, they made a mockery of weaker attempts which audiences have become so tired of seeing. The results were fantastic.

Oliver Taylor was excellent throughout, offering deft delivery and timing to an almost professional standard, whilst Adrian Gray was as engaging as ever in his diverse performances of a variety of odd and at times hilarious characters.

As is so often the case, Archie Henderson appeared to steal the show. His musical pieces, though at times predictable, lived up to the consistently high standards an anticipant ADC audience had come to expect.

The emergence of a shadowy figure holding a guitar and the pre-emptive laughter which ensued became somewhat tiring, whilst the pause-inducing, mid-sketch applause following one funny yet by no means hilarious musical number appeared odd. Yet to fault Henderson for this would be unfair.

Far from detracting from the quality of his fantastic individual performance it was a shame that other sketches, which were at times more nuanced and witty, received comparatively little enthusiasm. A larger, more diverse crowd may have been more appreciative.

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Similarly, the chemistry between Gray and Henderson was clear to see and utilised very well, yet it was a shame not to see more of Taylor in a leading role.

A particular stand out sketch included David Beckham and his ghost writer; an audacious piece involving Gray and Taylor, showcasing fantastic comic acting and deadpan delivery. Inevitable hiccups were referenced and dealt with effortlessly, enhancing the inherent humour of the sketch to a highly satisfying degree.

The beauty of Booby lies in its impressive capacity to please an expectant audience and make the most of previous material, without appearing at all stale or self-congratulatory.

There’s an inevitable risk that audiences may tire of somewhat repetitive performances. Whilst the quality of content remains so high, however, this doesn’t appear likely.

It’s an incredibly fine line, but one which Gray, Henderson and Taylor manage to balance to great effect. When done correctly, as is the case with Booby, the results are outstanding.

Four stars.