'Footlights: Leftovers' Review: ★★★

Performance Review

In more cases than one, Footlights: Leftovers leaves us with more questions than answers.

Maya Marie

Leftovers! Sometimes, delicious. Say, cold pizza when you are hungover— comforting, nutritious, and plain— or cold curly fries: sullen, foreboding, mocking you for your pecuniary over-optimism. Made up of some astounding moments of performance, playfully crafted spins, but also some sour punchlines, Footlights: Leftovers fell somewhere between the two.

For the Footlight members in this performance, their status as ‘leftovers’ was determined by them not making the cut for the shortened line-up of The Cambridge Footlights’ Annual World Tour, despite them performing with the infamous troupe all year. But these Footlights refused to be dampened by this; they instead revelled in being ‘leftover’, initiated an unforgettably witty marketing campaign (their poster design is genius), and set off to the Edinburgh section of the tour regardless.

I looked fondly upon the prospect of indulging in this surprise meal; I admired the ‘leftovers’ owning their situation and I’m always ready to support the underdog. With its excellent packaging, this show couldn’t look more enticing. Yet, in true mismatch leftover style, each bite was different, and it turns out a few had long gone off.

The set was a combination of new and old material. I was waiting with bated breath to see some of my favourite jokes from previous Footlights shows again, and sketches such as the Mordor press conference, accompanied by an excellent performance from Barnaby Evans as Sauron and James Hazell as his translator, packed the punch I remembered from the Spring Revue. On the other hand, the Warhammer sketch, in which a group of men decide on the name of their new craft shop, wasn’t quite as powerful as its initial ironic performance which was done by a female and non-binary group of the larger Footlights line-up.

A standout new sketch was the spelling-bee competition featuring a gender-biased host, again played by Barnaby Evans, who excels in taking on the big brash roles of the show. It’s crude, and it doesn’t have a punchline as such, so I can see it not working for everyone, but I loved it.

Although the contexts of some sketches were somewhat hazy, leaving much to be guessed, the leftovers put 110% into their performances, creating an enjoyable show even when some jokes didn’t quite hit. Oscar Matthews’ wholehearted commitment to his strange characters is something to be admired.

Other excellent performances were let down by some somewhat dubious elements, such as James Hazell’s socioeconomically questionable accent when playing a drug dealer pushing paracetamol. Whilst Hazell is clearly a master of accents, the choice here seemed distasteful, hinting at the leftover rice side of the plate: is it safe to eat? What are the rules here?

In more cases than one, Footlights: Leftovers leaves us with more questions than answers. Brilliant setups often trail away without reaching their maximum potential; a tendency towards silliness occasionally renders plotlines unclear. However, if you enjoy revelling in the strange and the absurd, you might as well grab a spoon and dive into these leftovers.

★ ★ ★

Footlights: Leftovers is on at theSpace on the Mile, Space 3, from 4-12, Aug at 21:50 & 14-19 Aug at 22:55. Get your tickets here.


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