Review: ‘Detention: A Sketch Show’
Excellent comedy let down by a silly premise
‘Detention: A Sketch Show’ is modelled on the premise of the 80s classic ‘The Breakfast Club.’ 5 teenagers spend Saturday detention together: Noah Geelan evokes the rebellious delinquent John Bender; Leo Reich the ‘princess’ Claire Standish; Laura Cameron the ‘jock’ Andrew Clark; Stanley Thomas the bookworm Brian Johnson, and Kate Collins the introverted, somewhat psychotic outcast, Allison Reynolds.
So far, so simple. Except it wasn’t.
Although all the characters introduced themselves in a sing-song dance piece at the beginning, as soon as they began to describe how they arrived in detention, they became different and unrelated to whom they had previously been playing. For example, Reich, who was playing himself playing a ‘princess’, suddenly became a woman named Sally, whilst Geelan became a cannibal, and Collins played a second-hand car dealer. If it sounds like it didn’t make sense, it’s because it didn’t.
Yes, the actors were overtly, and in some ways hilariously, self-aware that the sketches bore no relation to the show’s premise. However, I wish that they’d just performed them without constantly having to revert back to the detention room, because, on the whole, they were rather funny. The satire ridiculing football, the ‘Christmas coming early’ and fishing skits were great, but the two highlights were definitely the private school piece by Will Hall and Cameron and the obituary song by Thomas and Geelan, both of which had the audience in hysterics.
Other pieces were a bit more hit and miss. There was one I’d already seen performed in the Footlights before, and the Proclaimers, Harry Potter and Lady and the Tramp parodies felt dated – they were clichés that I felt had been done already. Sometimes the punchlines felt a little rushed and fell a little flat, although I’m sure that was just because it was the opening night.
I’m always aware of the difficulties of reviewing student-written comedy: I’m accustomed to watching comedians who have been mastering their act for over 20 years, not a few 19-or-so-year-olds who are trying to balance performing with a Cambridge degree. Overall, ‘Detention: A Sketch Show’ was an exhibition of comedians performing on-the-whole good sketches, but that were shoe-horned into a premise that made little sense. It had the potential to be excellent, but didn't know what it wanted to be – a parody of 'The Breakfast Club'or a sketch show.
However, that shouldn't detract you from going to see a group of very talented people do what they do best.