REVIEW: Footlights Presents: Xylophone

Boundless energy, slick performances and endless variety: The Footlights take us on a journey from A to Z.

ADC ADC theatre Comedy Footlights late show sketch show

We’re told that it’s the small things that matter. But a life lived on autopilot, driven by deadlines and end goals sometimes leaves us blinkered to the trivialities and peculiarities of the journey.

Footlights Presents: Xylophone draws the incessant rush of everyday life to a halt, and revels in the minutest of minutiae that have passed us by. As the pleasure to be taken in life’s banalities is exposed, an hour of escapism through the intense scrutiny of reality unfolds, revealing just how ridiculous our world can be.

This show is worth it just for the facial expressions. (Photo Credit: Amelia Oakley)

The sketch show takes the alphabet as a running thread: the audience is guided through, letter by letter, forcing close attention to that which has pervaded every word we’ve said and every sentence we’ve written since it was drilled into us all the way back in primary school. Such relatability and attention to detail is part of the joy of the show.

This thoroughness is not limited solely to the targets of the troupe’s sharp tongues but extends to every movement, every line. There is entertainment to be found in all aspects of the performance, down to the smallest gesture, facial expression and quirk of intonation. Declan Amphlett’s springy exit from the stage in ‘K’ and flustered posing in ‘Y’ had the audience howling without the need for a single syllable.

Seriously: those faces. (Photo Credit: Amelia Oakley)

This saturation of exuberance and vitality is quickly, and abruptly, pursued by unanticipated darkness and bluntness, keeping the audience on the very tips of their toes. Into the strict, methodical framework of the alphabet, unpredictability is injected. Close to the bone comments on being ‘barren’ and deadpan remarks about murderous stags bring the show’s gallop to a sudden stop. The result is an endlessly engaging variability of pace, which renders the audience vulnerable in the face of the ensuing, relentless barrage of laughs.

The company itself proves susceptible to the runaway gallop of the show – a cameo from a breaking voice was an especially guilty culprit on opening night – but this only adds to its charm: it does not take itself too seriously. To see those on stage enjoying themselves only enhances the enjoyment of those watching. There are no deep, self-righteous political comments, no forcefully critical social commentary: just comedy for comedy’s sake.

The cast, along with director Lily Lindon. (Photo Credit: Amelia Oakley)

Footlights Presents: Xylophone illuminates the small things that have eluded our attention and in doing so allows us to pause for breath, to escape the pressures of the big issues, and indulge in the realities of reality.

With boundless energy, slick performance and perpetual variety, Xylophone is a testament to the simple truth: there is humour wherever you look – you just have to look hard enough.

5/5 stars