Etheridge Cast and Crew With permission for Varsity

Etheridge: A Funeral Farce undoubtedly lives up to its name; it is, indeed, hilariously farcical. Joshua Gleave, writing with Frankie Browne, and directing with Olympia Koursarou, presents a bizarre picture of the enigmatic funeral director Etheridge (Nico Smith) in a sketch show format. Smith’s characterisation was, on the whole, effective. Though sometimes he seems to be aiming at an indistinct caricature that is never fully actualised, interrupting an otherwise cohesive portrayal, generally, Smith’s acute understanding of comic timing and excellent physicalisation create a character surprisingly vital for a funeral director. Smith provides a stable anchor for other actors throughout the play, leading bizarre sketches with a well earned confidence.

The play’s structure is less an overarching narrative, but more a series of random and hilarious sketches that often have no link but Etheridge himself. Some scenes come off without a hitch; stuffed ferret funeral vignettes and talking to teddy bears left the audience in stitches. Yet others fall slightly flat, as is the particular case of Mortimer’s funeral. But with the sheer volume of sketches in this show, the relatively small number of weaker scenes is admirable.

"Etheridge: A Funeral Farce undoubtedly lives up to its name; it is, indeed, hilariously farcical”

With a cast who jump from one character to the next, actors Milly Kotecha, Buzz Jones-Medeema, Rachel Guio and Carys Liles must be credited for their successful executions of various distinct characters. Kotecha and Jones-Medeema’s portrayal of the upper-class couple was a particular standout as the actors brought a certain coy sense of humour to these, and all their various roles, in the show.

Scene changes were often unpolished, leaving awkwardly long silences interspersed with unorganised shuffling. The staging felt rather shoved in one corner with actor’s forced into small spaces due to the sheer amount of props and set adornment. Yet at points this is something the cast actively capitalises on, spinning around with furniture and echoing lines into a dark auditorium to hilarious effect. The set, it must also be noted, creates an undoubtedly well-rounded and visually interesting backdrop.

“A play chock-a-block with hilariously immature goofs to distract from our depressingly goof-less real world”

The somewhat abrupt ending of the play does not live up to the cheesy but simultaneously fresh humour of preceding sketches; leaving one with a sense of under-rehearsal. Equally, the quotability of this production is a testament to the work that has gone into its creation with lines like “all I hear is rock and roll” or “an incident involving me, the boys, and the book of Leviticus”, which really must be experienced to be understood.


Mountain View

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Watching Etheridge is an evening well-spent for the average uni student looking for a play chock-a-block with hilariously immature goofs to distract them from our depressingly goof-less real world. Overall Etheridge is a production which you simply have to watch to truly understand how random, brilliant, and most definitely farcical this show is.

Etheridge: A Funeral Farce is showing at Pembroke New Cellars until Sat 24th February 2024.