Edinburgh Fringe 2012
The biggest brand name at this or any Fringe. If you don’t know who the Footlights are, then FringeReview welcomes you to planet Earth.
The venue is packed. There is a buzz and excitement which few acts can hope to muster. Then again few acts can say that they are in their 50th Fringe year and can claim to have kick started the careers of so many legendary comic talents. I’ve never seen the Footlights before and I really don’t want to be disappointed. I’m expecting witty and insightful sketch comedy, strong physical and vocal performances as well as tightly choreographed ensemble work.
I am not disappointed.
The set is a classically elegant central and side doors arrangement. The scene is a neutral black, dotted with LEDs. The few props are simple yet effective. The music throughout is just right – as bouncy as Tiger’s iPod. There are no costumes, so it matters that cast succeeded as well as they do in occupying the skins of their characters. An unsung star of the show is the flawless work from the light and sound desk. This is a cue-heavy show and quite a few of the gags wouldn’t have worked half so well without such accuracy. The performers’ movement is fluid, practise has made perfect, although occasionally we found ourselves wishing the voice projection had been more consistent. Sitting (or rather perching) right at the back we did miss some of the impact and a few of the visual gags did not make it over the heads of those in front.
The material is mixed but not patchy. Some concepts are noticeably stronger than others (a couple are so genuinely sidesplitting that my companion waxes lyrical on the subject of acorns and mighty trees). An unexpected delight is the interwoven narrative thread stitching the whole into to a tapestry of studied bizarrity. This might be the Footlights but this show has a found a contemporary voice drawing on eclectic volumes of cultural references. Some of the writing has claim to a place in the starting line up of Footlights Fringe classics. Some but not all.
It is a very great privilege to perform as part of the Cambridge Footlights during the Fringe. This well balanced company passes the finishing line with flying colours. Each performer carries themselves and more. They have succeeded in dragging the weight of expectation up the hill for another year.