The Footlights line-up had some stand-out performancesCambridge Footlights

Set in a lemon factory put into quarantine after an impure lime is found in one of the production lines, threatening to spread its green danger to the rest of the crop, the Footlights Spring Revue 2022 follows a group of lemon workers as they pass their time in lockdown, entertaining each other with songs, sketches and funny monologues. This creative setup leads the show nicely into its revue format, as well as getting the obligatory late-stage pandemic reference in nice and early.

“Well-placed running gags included dad jokes from beyond the grave and mixed attitudes to kink shaming”

The performances were all incredibly strong, with Robbie Boyd and Maddie London standing out as particularly talented. There was never a moment where the energy lapsed and the performances were always slick and well paced – it was clear that the Footlights have no issues with committing fully to whatever bit they try. This is a particularly important quality in a show like When Life Gives You Lemons, which certainly doesn’t shy away from the weird and the zany (or, indeed, “zesty”, as Boyd’s pun-loving lemon worker would say); someone only half-heartedly pretending to be a dirty-minded grandfather clock doesn’t quite have the same effect. There was a great range of scenes in the show, with short visual gags, snappy punchlines, longer songs and full-length sketches – all of which counted several winning ideas amongst them. This show is at its best when the joke is carefully crafted, with a setup and punchline based on some funny wordplay or somehow subverting the expectations of the audience: great examples of this very careful attention to putting together great comedy included Prince Phillip as Gollum, an AI learning to be a white man and some rather surprising funeral guests. There were some well-placed running gags, like dad jokes from beyond the grave or mixed attitudes to kink shaming, which were another testament to the potential of the group to really make people laugh. Where it was apparent that the cast had really taken some time to build a working context around their punchlines, or attach a good punchline to a funny starting idea, it was a genuinely very funny show.

“I don’t think padding the show out for as long as it lasted was really needed”

I think what let this year’s Revue down, though, was a slight tendency to aim for wacky but land on just weird. In my view, a song dedicated to a man who needs to go to therapy because he can’t stop tearing his pubic hair out needs a bit more context to become funny rather than just surprising. There were a few cases where the writer/performers behind a given sketch had come up with a solid idea, but just not really fleshed it out into a funny performance: the concept of tearing pubes out isn’t necessarily a winning joke just in and of itself (although Andy Bucks’ accompanying song was remarkably catchy, serving as a motif throughout the rest of the show). In a similar vein was a Dick-and-Dom-based erotica parody – it’s funny because Dick is another word for penis, but I’m not sure if the joke needed to be stretched out for a full monologue.


Mountain View

Fame, fortune, and being ginger

It’s often said that the problems with putting on a sketch show is that it’s impossible for every idea to be a winner, but I do think that the Revue could certainly have cut out a few more, particularly as I didn’t end up leaving the theatre until almost three hours after the start time. The cast have done a brilliant job of producing more than enough genuinely funny content to fill an hour or an hour and a half slot, and so I don’t think padding the show out for as long as it lasted was really needed. The trouble with comedy, though, is that a different audience member may well find the sketches I thought weren’t needed hilarious – and there is certainly more than enough talent and skill in this year’s Footlights to make this show worth watching, in spite of its weaker moments.

The Footlights Spring Revue 2022: When Life Gives You Lemons is running until the 5th of March at the ADC Theatre at 19:45, with an additional matinee on the 5th at 14:30.