By Catriona Inglis
I went into Durham Revue’s No Strings Attached with very little idea of what I was going to watch however, I was pleasantly surprised by the quick-witted comedy that I was presented with. No Strings Attached was a funny and light-hearted amalgamation of sketches written by Sam Fenn. Although these sketches are linked somewhat by the title, the real beauty of the production is in its sheer randomness. Sketches raged from five minutes to five seconds but somehow managed to maintain the same humorous and relaxed tone throughout and formed from simple ideas that are organised into cohesive performances The frequent fourth-wall breaks were effective in making the audience feel like a part of the humour on stage. If I were to choose a favourite sketch I would probably say Simon Says, but I keep changing my mind which perhaps is a testament to the exceptional quality of the show.
The excellent writing was matched by an excellent cast who were energetic and on-cue from the beginning to the end. The performance was on the whole very slick: transitions between sketches were quick enough that the momentum of the overall performance was not lost. There were a couple of slip-ups, but these were pulled off in such a way that they actually added to the overall experience rather than detracting from it. Who doesn’t like messing with the techies? The seven-person cast seemed to be enjoying the performance as much as the audience which meant for an open and relaxed atmosphere which was necessary for the show to be a success. Indeed, I am truly impressed by the cast’s ability to stay in character through the laughter of the audience and the constant humour of the script.
In many ways, the simplicity and minimalist style of the piece really suited the production as any more would have detracted from the script and acting. The stage was clear except for four chairs and two lighting strips. Very few props were used through the piece and the ones that were used were utilised well for comedic effect. The uniform costume choice was reminiscent of traditional sketch comedy. The tech was made to look easy by a tech team that were generally slick and perfectly in sync with the actors, a feat that is impressive considering the sheer quantity of black-outs and music cues.
Overall, No Strings Attached was an entertaining comedy that didn’t take itself too seriously. Very much catered towards students, the show is perfect for a university evening out. To put it simply, if you want to have a laugh and enjoy the unexpected nature and constant surprise of scratch comedy then No Strings Attached is definitely worth watching.
No Strings Attached is playing on 28th January in The Assembly Rooms.
Photograph: No Strings Attached prod team