February 23, 2011
Everyone's used to black comedy these days, whether it be via Black Books, Little Britain, League of Gents, Peep Show, The Office or Nighty Night. The British have always loved to laugh at the misfortune of others, but now it's positively the mode du jour. Consequently, anything new needs to pretty much punch you in the face and feature live Granny incest or cat-strangling to make any impact. The last 'darkly comic' student show I saw was The Oxford Revue (also in the BT) in Feb 2010, which set the bar high. So, how do Little Dark compare? Well, whilst there are knob jokes, iridescent underpants, attempted hanging, kicked bits and creatures and spaff a-plenty, Little Dark somehow don't quite succeed in hitting the same heights. One suspects that these chaps might really just be a Little Too Nice. The surrealism is (if this is possible) a little too surreal, the political satire is obscure, the acting is a bit wooden, there aren't enough exciting costumes, the pianist is nervous...and all in all, there just aren't enough laughs. ON THE OTHER HAND: there are gems in here. I shan't spoil(er) them all, but 'L C Richard' features some ace character acting by the chap playing L C, the recurrent waiting room scenario's got some cracking punchlines and there is some jolly and clever Derek and Clive word/taboo-play (that I appeared to be the only person to find amusing. Is it my age?!). Also, leeway should always be given to anyone on their first night, when nerves are inevitable and the cast haven't yet relaxed into their stride. All the same, I think these boys could do with 'sexing' the show up a bit - perhaps by adopting some kind of stage 'uniform', perhaps by spending some more cash on props (though you have to admire the effort that must have gone into those bonkers/amazing shadow puppets). I'd certainly be interested to see how their next show turns out.