Pillbox

Footlights conquer campus

Imagine this: A tall, handsome, blond British man adopting an extraordinarily high-pitched voice is addressing two other guys. He is running a counseling session for men who “don’t show their emotions.” To aid him in this task, he is wielding a special “truth spoon.” He convinces the two others to each reveal a deep secret, and then admits one himself — with the help of the spoon, of course. In a very tender voice, he confesses that he is in fact a traveling con artist, blackmailing his clients with their newly revealed truths.

This subtle yet hilarious flavor of comedy was plentiful in Pretty Little Panic, the Cambridge Footlights’ touring production, sponsored by Scotch’n’Soda Theatre last Friday. After a memorable performance last year, the Footlights returned and delivered in a big way.

The Cambridge Footlights is a comedy troupe that has existed since 1883. Stemming from the prominent Cambridge University in England, the troupe has become a world-renowned group with such notable alumni as Hugh Laurie and Sacha Baron Cohen.

When the audience first entered McConomy Auditorium Friday night, the lights were dimmed. There were three tall slabs of wood, painted black, standing on the center of the stage. Blue and red stage lights subtly lit the space as music by the Arctic Monkeys and other British bands played in the background.

As the show began, two blonds, a ginger, and a brunette sauntered onto the stage (Mark Fiddaman, Alexander Owen, Ben Ashenden, and Adam Lawrence, respectively), wearing identical white cotton long-sleeve shirts and black skinny jeans. Their attire didn’t distract from their performance, allowing the audience to better connect with the characters and their short acts.

The troupe breezed through more than 20 skits, at times returning to previous themes. The rapid-fire comedy was refreshing and a “different kind of humor that was so funny,” said Liliana Kong, a junior in industrial design. The performance’s success was largely due to the cast of four’s incredible commitment.

“Incredible. I really liked it,” said Feyza Koksal, a fifth-year architecture student. This sentiment seemed to echo through the University Center after the performance ended.

Chidimma Onwuegbule, a first-year in CIT, said, “There was not a slow moment. It kept you constantly entertained.”

In an interview, the Footlights and their entourage attributed the organization’s continued success to its strong past membership, most notably in the ’60s and ’70s, as well as the strong infrastructure the performers have in place — they often convene and put on performances every two weeks. They loved performing here at Carnegie Mellon because of how receptive the audience was to their humor.

The British came, and they conquered — at least here at Carnegie Mellon. After the Footlights’ well-received production, it appears Carnegie Mellon students would be up for a Footlights invasion any day.