Cambridge, cambridge footlights, edinburgh fringe, footlights, fringe, fringe 2017, fringe reviews, fringe shows, improv, improverts, shit-faced shakespeare, shitfaced showtime, sleeping trees, sleeping trees at the movies, wizard of oz
(12.00, Pleasance Dome)
The only show we saw outside of the comedy bracket, this being a physical theatre piece, Form is a self-evident result of the performers devising and playing around. With entertaining results, the title ‘Form’ reflects the fact that the show doesn’t have any specific form or structure. Set in a typically systematic office space, the characters’ ever-increasing digression into inventively fooling around with work supplies and such creates a fascinating correlation between the fiction and the working atmosphere in which the fiction was created. Whilst this fluid structure does slow down a bit in the latter half, it makes for a refreshingly creative use of a ‘imagination restricted to environment’ premise. The show leaves you with provocative ideas of having your potential trapped in a box of staplers and window blinds; something that the performers themselves are most likely attempting to escape with this very show. For the best sequence using the ‘going down the stairs’ illusion I’ve ever seen alone, this is worth the watch.
The Cambridge Footlights International Tour 2017: Dream Sequence
(16.00, Pleasance Dome)
Obviously, the Footlights has had its place as the podium for tomorrow’s talent for almost as long as the Fringe itself. Consequently, whilst you expect a stellar and hilarious show, you also unfairly carry the stigma that these performers will have a cold awareness of their brilliance. However, as I watched my first Footlights revue, that never came across at all. Like the rest of the best, they were just a phenomenally talented group of performers wanting to put on a good show.
The hit-and-miss ratio leaning far closer to the former, there were so many sparks of genius throughout the show. If it wasn’t the spot-on writing, it was how the performers took from and worked off the writing and, if it wasn’t that, it was how these performers worked with the audience: watch out for an absolutely killer sketch with two teachers trying to crowd control a school coach. Whilst the show would have worked fine without the more politically-heavy sketches, they are still very funny and the show is by no means lesser with their inclusion. An A-class revue and, in a time where the world begins to speed up, it is a credit to the Footlights for keeping to their classic structure of largely three-minute-long sketches and fully relish the ideas in the material.
Sleeping Trees at the Movies: Mafia?
(17.30, Pleasance Dome)
They are the best. This may have already been my stance, prior to this year, but seeing the show again simply reaffirmed the Sleeping Trees as my favourite group at the Fringe. They are the full package: fully-developed narratives with a large cast of characters and changing environments clearly defined and realised through the physical and vocal talents of three performs and one musician: how do they do it? With this show being ‘Mafia’, the conventions of this genre are also excellently observed and executed, as is said conventions in ‘Sci-fi’, but I’ll be reviewing that one later! Having now done these shows for the past couple of years, the Trees’ comfort within these shows are very much their gain: being able to identify the precise moments to stick to the story or to improvise and attempt to crack each other up without any risk of deterring the audience and losing the story. It is a remarkable balance that is kept and controlled by the trio’s firm chemistry and understanding of one another. I was glad to return to the unbeatable escapism they provide and to see Alex experience Sleeping Trees for the first time.
Shit-faced Showtime: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
(22.00, Underbelly Med Quad)
Very much what it says on the empty can, this is basically an unaltered adaptation of Wizard of Oz with a drunken cast member thrown into it and, whilst I was hoping for a more inventive comedic retelling, what we got was entertaining enough. Seeing these trained musical theatre performers having to work around this piss-head mucking up everything was truly something to behold. In our performance, the drunkard was the Tin Man whose decision to instead seek Oz for a new personality was definitely the highlight. However, it has to be said, the moments when the drunk wasn’t on stage and the musical was just being performed straight did seem to drag along a bit and this is when a more comedic script could have been brought in to great effect. Also, during the songs, it was unfortunate that these talented musical theatre performers’ voices were at the mercy of a faulty microphone system. Overall, though, we came out of this show having had a great time.
(00.30, Bedlam Theatre)
Any apprehensions that improvisation’s an easy scapegoat will be challenged by The Improverts. Whilst pre-written material is inevitably more polished, watching what a performer is capable of when working off-the-cuff is truly something to behold and, in this case, that was a recklessly entertaining hour-long show. Though many of the stimulant games were not too dissimilar to what we play at the Winchester drama society, through sheer wit and general eye for comedy, this group were able to seamlessly use said games to generate entire five-minute sketches.
The Improverts also have a clear understanding that the best way to show improvisation in-action is to let the audience make a lot of the decisions, when it came to choosing the premise/character/setting of a game. Not only this but, in the final game, they open the stage up to the audience to join in at any time; an offer which Lucie, Alex and myself were, of course, eager to take up. In fact, once I’d come up and done a bit, they made me and another fella bow with them, much to our amused embarrassment. Thank you so much to The Improverts for such an upbeat and fun end to our first day at the Fringe. 4.5/5
That’s all for now, I’ll have what we saw last Wednesday written up for tomorrow.