Review: UCL Comedy Club presents ‘And It Was Good’
Philip Chennery shares his thoughts on a night of stoners, death and Jesus
As a sceptic of contemporary comedy I was impressed with UCL Comedy Club's ability to draw the audience into a world of modern bible analysis, with the bonus being a high quality of witticism to top it off.
The show starts as the final audience members are ushered into the cosy Bloomsbury Studio, the lights begin to fade and a booming voice greets us with the classic line – "In the beginning there was nothing".
Somewhat wittily this voice belongs to none other than the show's own ‘divine creator,’ writer George Tothill, who along with his co-writer Patrick Healy takes us down a path of miracles, excitement and Jesus masturba-MEDITATION.
Our protagonists are an unruly set of five GCSE pupils and their teacher, desperately learning for an upcoming RS exam. Conveniently, each one takes it in turn to fall asleep and so the foundations are laid for 6 sets of hilarious sketches.
Through these dreams we meet your biblical favourites, from Garden of Eden tenants Adam and Eve to sexy cross-fit training Satan, as well as being given the answers to legendary questions, such as how many Capri-Suns it took to turn the Nile red – and who could forget everyone’s favourite "abomination," the aptly named Mr Homer Sexuality.
Mime played an essential role in creating the stage space, complimenting the show’s somewhat Brechtian method of not letting the audience forget the holy trinity of student theatre shortcomings: a lack of plugs on stage, safety hazard forms and not enough love from the SU (looking at you Johnny Glover!)
Unfortunately, despite the heroic efforts of UCL's stage crew, the scene changes were clunky. This was hastily covered up with an 80's theme to the blackout music – songs ranged from Boney M’s ‘Ra Ra Rasputin’ to Bon Jovi's ‘Livin’ on a Prayer’.
Nonetheless, this was balanced out by quick bursts of comedy in the skits, very slick at times, with some lasting only a couple of lines and yet still managing to leave the audience visibly entertained. The stand-out performances fittingly came from Jimmy Banta and Shounak De in their recurring roles as the Father and Son, taking a fresh and sassy approach to the characters. Though special mention must go to Olga Krasnenkova for her convincing portrayal of the despairing RS teacher – 'God help them!' she remarks.
At the end of the day, what makes ‘And It Was Good’ unique is the way in which biblical tales have been adapted into our 21st century society, allowing for a compelling and engaging performance. From Job’s cries of ‘God is a fucking legend’ and Jesus' clash with a parking inspector to the Angel of Death signing for an Amazon Prime delivery, the enjoyment this derived from the audience was lovely to see.
If you’re looking for a night of giggles, dreams and Christian puns then this is the show for you. It succeeds in reminding the audience that sometimes – just sometimes – it is necessary for us to stop being so serious about serious things and let our imaginations run wild, like those of George and Patrick.