John, Ruby, Sam, Ania and HenryRob Eager

Take five comedians, freshly emerged and slightly melted in the middle from the Cambridge exam term pressure cooker. Add twelve weeks and fifteen locations, spanning three countries. Dress with the rich flavour of the Footlights brand (a comedic inheritance that cannot be worn lightly), but give them free rein over the feel and name of their own show (though take care to rule out initial suggestions of Hubba Hubba, The Silly Isles, and Ruby’s grammatically-resistant personal favourite, Thine Happy Feet). Stir in a healthy dose of skits and sketches, and don’t forget—“a hole punch, an apple, a tiny bottle of baby powder and the complete works of Shakespeare!”

These final irreverent ingredients do not actually feature in Cambridge Footlights International Tour Show: Dream Sequence, but adorn the table of the CUADC Club Room, where we meet to talk about their show, imminently arriving at the ADC before going on to grace the stages of Edinburgh Fringe, and a plethora of other venues across Britain and the United States. “Quick,” deadpans Sam Knights with mock urgency, “turn them into a sketch!”

Though he and John Tothill dutifully begin to do so, whilst their cast mates (Ruby Keane, Ania Magliano-Wright, and Henry Wilkinson) nestle into the sofas, it quickly becomes apparent that this is not a reflection of the show’s creation process. Director Ellie Warr’s method of constructing comedy does not consist of quickly throwing a miscellany of joke-makers into a pot and praying they emulsify into a ready-made five-star show. Instead Dream Sequence is, as John puts it, “a really long time in the making”; the coming together of Cambridge comedy’s brightest young things which they’re “just dying for people to see because I—we—really love it.”.

It is the culmination of a writing process that began way back in January, fuelled by vast quantities of creamy carbohydrates courtesy of Ruby and Tour Manager Lewis Brierly, who picked ‘potatoes’ as their theme during the group’s Come Dine With Me competition in their first writing week. Ruby pinpoints this as a pivotal moment for cast-bonding. “We bought twenty-five potatoes and had to stop mashing them because our hands were numb.” The rest of the cast shudder at the memory, but as they gleefully chip in to recount the story, the well-cemented dynamic energy of the group becomes increasingly apparent.

A rebellious beginning in Walberswick.ZAK GHAZI-TORBATI

Although said writing week took place in “a lovely little cottage in Walberswick”, and their only big American road trip plans consist of a shotgun marriage between Ruby and Henry, and a cookie dough bar in New York which Ania saw on Facebook, my suggestion that their vibe “isn’t very ‘rock ’n’ roll tour bus’” is met with cries of collective outrage. After all, I am reminded, John and Ania will technically have to be snuck in as minors to their alcohol-serving American venues.

Ania, the only fresher of the troupe, is nominated as ‘the cool one’ within their pop group dynamic. That this is immediately followed up by John being announced as ‘the chaplain one’, whilst Sam, ‘is slam poetry’, tells you all you need to know about the seriousness with which they take themselves and their burgeoning BNOC statuses. As rock ’n’ roll reputations go, they’re less Stephen Fry at the BAFTA afterparty, more Emma Thompson at Friday Life.

Group sketch-writing appears 'dreamy'ZAK GHAZI-TORBATI

But the reputation that precedes anything labelled ‘Footlights’ (the club which launched both Fry and Thompson, as well as Mitchell and Webb, Mel and Sue, Richard Ayoade and Olivia Colman, to name but a few) of course looms large.“It’s such a privilege really,” John admits. “It’s amazing that you can go to a venue in a country you’ve never been to before and people will know who the Footlights are. Obviously it can be annoying when people presuppose you fit neatly into that very old school ‘the doctor will see you now’ species of quaint British comedy, but it’s still a massive privilege.”

Indeed, thanks to the Footlights’ famous predecessors, punters might expect a rehashed re-staging of a particular epoch of British comedy, but Dream Sequence promises to carve out an irreverent identity of its own. “It’s really light-hearted, easygoing. It’s silly,” explains John. “But it’s political and punchy, too,” adds Ruby. “There’s all sorts.”

Their GoogleDrive of sketches is apparently sorted into four folders: ‘Surreal’, ‘Batshit’, ‘Nightmare’ and ‘Calm down’.

Their GoogleDrive of sketches is apparently sorted into four folders: ‘Surreal’, ‘Batshit’, ‘Nightmare’ and ’Calm down’. Implying again a serious, methodological approach to their highly anticipated tour, this system exists because, as Ellie explains, “we want to be sensitive to the rhythms of the show.” When asked what ‘Batshit’ might entail, the five performers transform into gleeful toddlers, tripping over themselves to inform their mums of the carnage they have just created. “End of Act One! End of Act One! Wait until the end of Act One!” I am told, cryptically. Henry, reading my bewilderment but not wanting to give anything away, brushes it off with an alternative punchline: “Basically we’re saying that the best part is the interval.”

It certainly seems as though Cambridge audiences — treated to double the amount of sketches as will feature in their tour — have quite a bit to look forward to. Looking forward excitedly to their opening night, the cast nevertheless fail to provide as much enthusiasm for the ADC’s themed interval drink, the Dream Se-quench. “It’s horrid, it’s disgusting! It’s somehow both sweet and bitter. You drink it and go ‘Ooh that’s really sweet and sugary’ but also… ‘Oooh, that’s really not delicious’”, pronounces John. Whether Ellie, head in hands, is despairing at the drink in question or her handpicked stars’ lack of PR training is unclear. John ploughs on: “I think it’s made to be vomited. It’s just one of those drinks.” “One of those vomit-y drinks”, Ania concurs.

And so my conversation with the cast of Dream Sequence ends as they certainly mean to go on: with an uncompromising commitment to diligent silliness. With their delightful, deranged humour, when these muppets take Manhattan (and Las Vegas, and Cambridge, and, uh, Leamington Spa), you’d be a fool to miss them