REVIEW: Footlights Spring Revue 2017: Behind Closed Doors

As a Footlights virgin, I did not quite know what to expect from the Footlights Spring Revue 2017: Behind Closed Doors.

ADC Cambridge Theatre Footlights Footlights Spring Revue theatre review

We’ve all seen the calibre of people the Footlights have produced and it is hard not to compare – but Behind Closed Doors lived up to their reputation!

Behind Closed Doors greets us with ‘Footlights street’, with a door for each of the current members of the troupe. We’re introduced to the gang at the beginning and this forms the frame of the sketch show that we keep returning to – especially to the amusingly maltreated Adam Woolf who is relegated to living in the floor.

It has to be said straight off that all of the Footlights held their own, but the stand-out stars of the current line-up are Sam Knights – even if he does come across as rather A Bit of Fry and Laurie, and Ruby Keane. Certainly keep an eye out for these two in the future.

[All images credited to Nick Harrison]

Knights is in many of the funniest moments of the revue – one stand-out moment being his  Tory society president who loses his followers to ‘dreaded’ socialism. He is mostly deployed in a Stephen Fry/Basil Fawlty sort of way and yet he is so hilarious that you forgive him for having one particularly strong string to his bow or, as I suspect, for there only being enough room in this revue for him to play this part. He had me – as well as most of the audience – keeled over in laughter. Particularly noteworthy was his hilarious game-master wizard that led the show’s only interactive sketch; one that I will not ruin here but I will say that it is one of the best moments of the entire show, in no small part down to him and his ‘avatar’ Enrico Hallworth.

Keane, as the dark and edgy girl of the piece, is a little more understated than her female colleagues in the show in a deliciously wry sort of way. Clever one-liners, in a matter-of-fact quick style combined with a gangly physical humour, stole plenty of sketches. Whilst not utilised in the show as much as some of the others, she has an intelligent, professional delivery that the audience found very funny.

Hot on their heels is Footlights President Dillon Mapletoft, whose two absurd sketches – both about modern art(ists) and all of its/their associated pretensions – were hilariously delivered with perfect timing and well-thought-out ticks and mannerisms. Whoever is primarily responsible for the writing those sketches (and I sort of hope/suspect it was Dillon himself) also needs to take a bow for some of the best writing in the entire review.

On keyboard (and in plenty of sketches too) were the powerful lungs of Orlando Gibbs. His casting in these sketches made him feel like a reliable ‘best-friend-in-the-sitcom’ actor, albeit one who is much more memorable and polished. Haydn Jenkins and Mark Bittlestone were paired together for some cracking sketches with rather amusing accents and seasoned banter. It was a shame for Mark (who did well in many sketches, including the Tory society one) that a rather predictable stereotype of a gay man became pretty much his ‘character’ for several of the segway parts. His introduction, which didn’t get many laughs, was one of the more underdeveloped moments of the revue.

Counter to this was the sketch that the three women of the revue took part in, highlighting that there had never been three women in a revue before and producing sophisticated, point-making laughs. Luisa Callander was solid all round, perhaps not hitting the heights of some of her colleagues but certainly milking ‘Scottishness’ for all it was worth. Riss Obolensky, hilarious as an old woman and in her physicality, seemed to get somehow funnier as the show went on in her more comfortable material. Her sketch with Dillon (as sibling artists) and the other two women stood out.

Enrico Hallworth meanwhile did not have the boring personality attested to by his assigned door on stage at all; he proved a funny all-rounder who took some of the most diverse parts in sketches, including a rather amusing stint as Dracula. The aforementioned Adam Woolf was nominated as ‘the least funny member of the Footlights’ for the show, and whilst this was endearing, it meant that he didn’t really get to shine in any one piece.

None of the sketches totally flopped, and the lower points were at worst ‘okay’; nothing was actually terrible. Equally, some moments truly reach the heights of everything good you’ve ever heard about this group.

So if, like me, you have never seen a Footlights show, fancy two (yes, two) vampire sketches, hilarious musical numbers and a mash-up of stand-up, physical and absurd comedy then I cannot recommend you get yourself to Behind Closed Doors while it is still on – it’s worth it!