Comedy: Act Casual and Rookie
Frances Docx found both comedy troupes to be witty and endearing
by Frances Docx
Tuesday 1st May 2012, 12:04 BST
Last term I entreated all of my friends, everyone I knew and many I didn’t know, to go and see the new sketch show Rookie; the show sold out rapidly and many who promised me they would attend missed the opportunity to do so. The moment I heard it was being performed again, and what’s more, alongside the critically acclaimed Act Casual, my enthusiasm for rounding up the troops for a night of lurching with laughter was illimitable (make allowances, it’s exam term).
The boys of Act Casual and the girls of Rookie contrasted and complimented each other and their individual material blended well in the ‘mash up’ of the two shows. The sketches on both parts were witty, slick and fast paced but often the most effective were the minimal, more simplistic strains of humour. Act Casual’s sketch featuring a ‘red herring’ and an ‘elephant in the room’, though a simple brand of comedy (and perhaps even bordering on the infantile), released a ripple of heartfelt laughter and Rookie’s ‘Black Russian’ joke, though again simple, led to hysterics.
Having not seen the original stand-alone version of Act Casual, I can’t comment on its translation into the ‘mash-up’ which we were presented with tonight. However there was a sense, (hinted at in the introduction delivered by Harry Michell and Matilda Wnek) of a playful rivalry between the two shows. Curious, I asked several of my friends in the audience which they felt to be the strongest and funniest- views were almost entirely split with some swearing allegiance to the ‘Moosical’ talent of ACs Harry Michell, and others merrily quoting Rookie’s Rosa Parks sketch (relentlessly) all the way home.
Perhaps the most endearing quality of the cast of Act Casual (and in particular, Alex Mackeith and Will Attenborough’s performance) was the incessant cheek biting necessary to keep a straight face during their sketches. Normally, this could perhaps tarnish an otherwise professional sheen but here it merely resulted in a sense of inclusion, a relaxed atmosphere and a real notion that the comedians were genuinely enjoying what they were doing.
I told myself I wouldn’t mention the fire alarm about three-quarters of the way through the production; these unforeseen mishaps belong to the realms of fate and unruly parties in Corpus Christi and are not really review-worthy as they neither add nor take anything away from the efforts of the cast and production team. However, spotting the cast having a cheeky smoke and natter along with the audience mid-show really embodied the atmosphere of Act Casual and Rookie. It is familiar, inclusive and relaxed comedy which progressively endears itself to the audience. It is the sort of comedy which still resonates the next day, and breaks up the dull surfaces of lectures with smirks at remembered quotes.