Growing Pains offered the Footlights the opportunity to experiment with new formsCredit:

On the 12th of May, the Cambridge Footlights premiered Growing Pains, a 45-minute-long sketch show about what happens when the growing gets tough. Although there are several excellent highlight skits, some of the writing couldn’t quite get past the teething stage. Growing Pains is a series of fourteen absurdist sketches that revolve around various takes on the theme of ‘growing’ and was written and performed by Chakira Alin, Maddie London, Robbie Boyd, and Emily Symington.

“The simplest sketches tended to be the best as they didn’t become overly complex, nor labour on a particular joke.”

I commend the Footlights on producing comedy during the pandemic and finding alternative ways to showcase their talents. Presumably to adhere to the corona guidelines, the sketches were filmed outside, giving the show an organic high school film production vibe. Considering the performance is entitled Growing Pains, I’ll assume this was an ingenious thematic choice that encapsulates the show’s essence very well. However, the filming outside did come with several drawbacks. In several scenes, the typical Cambridge gale-force winds drown out the performers. Understandably, competing with the ever-blowing fens winds must have been frustrating, but sometimes it was equally difficult to strain to listen to the punch lines.

While there were several good sketches, I came away feeling as though the Footlights have a tendency to labour the jokes, long past the point of being amusing. A sketch may initially start out with an interesting idea to be explored, but the point is quickly made, and the comedy devolves. On several occasions, what should have been a minute long piece, is dragged out to four or five minutes. I feel that a highlights reel of Growing Pains would maintain the original creative intent of the piece but be more entertaining with a snappy pace.


Mountain View

“I was just like, this is horrifically good”: Interview with the cast and crew of Footlights presents: Growing Pains

The simplest sketches tended to be the best as they didn’t become overly complex, nor labour on a particular joke. The highlight skit involved Diana and Karl Marx presenting the M&S Christmas ad, sharing the festive products because what’s his is hers - literally. The comedy is silly, original, and absurdist – what the Footlights do best. But most importantly, the joke is not overly played and is less than a minute long. Here, the video format was utilised best as the editing added to the comedic tension, rather than distracted.

The stand-out comedians of the show were Chakira Alin and Robbie Boyd, who each bring different energies to their performances, but that contrast results in an excellent delivery that helps to maintain the pace in the often drawn-out scenes. Boyd’s flamboyance doesn’t just manifest in his style but also in his comedic form. Where Boyd’s personality is the character, Alin does an equally good job of becoming the character. Her comedic range is fantastic, and it was enjoyable to watch her embody both Marx and a tweenaged vampire within minutes of each other. I especially enjoyed the interplay between them, and I think their contrasting styles could gel very well on-stage.

“I am looking forward to what the Footlights are putting on for some long-awaited in-person shows”

I think the show’s title is fitting for the current state of the Cambridge Footlights – they’re struggling through some growing pains through their time in exile from the stage but hopefully will soon emerge with some fully developed comedy genius. With that being said, I am looking forward to what the Footlights are putting on for some long-awaited in-person shows that will hopefully live up to the months of mounting anticipation. However, once they are indoors and on-stage again, the Footlights can seek shelter from the Cambridge winds, which hopefully won’t leave their comedy too exposed.