Cambridge Footlights duo Leo Reich and Emm Downie do not disappoint with their hour of sketch and character comedy which focuses on the perils of of modern day dating. Rather than presenting unconnected sketches (as I have seen the Cambridge Footlights crew do before), this particular piece uses the narrative of a single evening to bring all of the different sketches together. This structure makes the elements of the show feel effortlessly connected, with each character sketch making an odd kind of sense, even if taken to extreme and ludicrous lengths. The basic story follows two friends who spend the night trying to pick up guys after both failing their own respective dates. This presentation of awkwardness and confusion in the world of romance is spot on.
Each sketch captures the ridiculousness of the character stereotype without overdoing it
The primary discussion of their failures in flirting, online dating and grappling with their own sexuality masterfully blends the character sketches together. These range from clueless art critics to Scandinavian detectives to American tech innovators. Each sketch captures the ridiculousness of the character stereotype without overdoing it; the comedy was in the details of gesture and dialogue rather than relying too heavily on cheap gags.
Whilst the more absurd character sketches probably got the biggest laughs (especially when audience interaction is involved) the overarching narrative cleverly discusses how modern day issues faced by twenty-somethings have changed the face of the dating world; by looking at Tinder, ‘Netflix and chill’ and the oncoming world of adulthood, the pair make you think about whether romance really is dead and love is increasingly impossible to find. These more serious moments are arguably the weaker (though still not weak) part of the show, partially because they involve some repetition (Emm’s non-existent boyfriends got a few too many mentions).
What especially impressed me about all of the characters’ portrayals was Reich and Downie’s comic timing. Often the most successful moments were lines which appeared throwaway but in fact subverted our expectations. Through this technique, the comedy stayed at a consistently high and impressive level, earning regular applause and laughter so loud the pair had to pause their dialogue.