Cambridge Footlights: Today Of All Days
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2002
From a deserted pub on a moonless night, the 2001 Perrier Best Newcomer nominees embark on a journey through the heart of the jungle into the depths of the ocean.
There are moments in this year's Footlights offering that sparkle with wit and style. But there are just as many that don't.
Today Of All Days is an eclectic mix of sketches in a diverse range of styles, which means the whole affair lacks cohesion. You're never quite sure what angle the more-than-capable cast are coming from, and what they are trying to achieve.
The proceedings are nominally set around a sinister and remote rural pub - but it simply exists as a way of bringing each character on and off stage.
This setting is adroitly established by means of an over-the-top melodrama, packed full of witty puns and deliberately luvvyish acting, overseen by a snooty Chorus.
But they falter when their comedy ventures away from the more literary, and there's a complete mid-order collapse as the team fails to accomplish much with their ill-thought-out forays into physical humour, musical skits and audience banter.
A very straightforward sketch about an overenthusiastic drama teacher is one highlight, and a moody but mockingly pretentious faux-autobiographical piece has its moments, too. That these are the things that you might expect an arty middle-class Cambridge undergraduate to have most experience of is surely evidence that comedy is always strongest when you write from your own life.
But everything's a little too knowing, and lacking in any real passion (other than the drive to follow in the footsteps of such famous Footlights forebears as John Cleese and Peter Cook) to really engage the audience's attention. So, while this patchy affair is professionally executed, it needs a spark to ignite it.