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Non-Sexual Kissing
Pleasance Dome
, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Group: Cambridge Footlings 2003

Andrew Chippindale

Blah blah...Peter Cook... blah blah...Monty Python...blah blah...Fry & Laurie...blah blah...punting...blah blah...privilege...etc.

Well, that gets the usually obligatory gripes about whatever year's Footlights show over and done with. And, as ever, it is utterly irrelevant to even bring it up. The only connection to their comic forbears displayed by this year's Footlights Company is the recognition of the fact that the good ones were originals. And this is a very original show. Don't go expecting terribly terribly dry, 'rah' sounding material delivered in upper middle class accents with a clutch of witty songs, there isn't any of that.

Instead the company have devised a set of sketches that at times feel more like fragments from a more than usually funny play that might be found at The Bush Theatre or Radio 4. It is sketch comedy, after a fashion, but with the sketches building up narratives, inter-connected and making almost a play out of the lives of various people living in a block of London flats; an ignorant boyfriend being left by his girlfriend to move in with the man across the hall from him, a Welcome Home party without the guest of honour and two guys going up and down in a lift for a day.

What sets this apart from more conventional sketch material is that there are not nearly so many easy laughs as there might be. Slightly off-kilter situations, which are funny in their own right, are left to make their own internal sense rather than neatly rounded off with a gag. The characters are developed rather than used as straw targets for punch-lines and there is often a sense of poignancy rather than hilarity. That isn't to say that the show fails, or isn't funny. It is funny, but with the added bonus that one comes out feeling moved as well as having had a laugh. It's an original take on the sketch show format and one that works very well indeed.

31 July to 25 August.

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