The Nottingham New Theatre’s first show of the new academic year is appropriately named for its array of fresh talent. If you’re a theatre-connoisseur or a novice spectator, the Freshers’ Fringe is a great show for engaging with what the NNT has to offer this year and provides an idea of the talent we will see in future productions. With a selection of short extracts and comic sketches each act is brief and snappy, guaranteed to keep you engrossed for an evening of interesting entertainment from the only 100% student-run theatre in the country.
The evening’s range of performances alternates between satirical and more serious pieces providing the audience with a great variety. At times the less comical scenes were slightly awkward, with some actors delivering lines with more professionalism than others, due to the expected mounting nerves. For many of these actors this is the first time they have performed in front of a live audience at University, and yet the majority pull off their scenes with impressive skill. The occasional expected blunder and awkwardness comes with the territory and therefore the audience can excuse the unfortunately clumsy atmosphere of some of the sketches, many of which end quite abruptly due to the short time limit allotted for each act. Nevertheless, the technical crew, almost entirely made up of freshers, are efficient at moving between acts and therefore the pace of the evening never wanes and the audience has little time to dwell on the extent to which each sketch is clearly an amateur assembly.
For someone that enjoys comedy, the inclusion of puns and well-timed punch lines quenched the need for a good laugh after a long day of dull lectures. Act I, only half an hour long, gets off to a slower start with a surplus of female monologues that could have benefitted from an increase in variety. However, the interjection of ‘The Education of Skinny Spew’ by Howard Brenton provided a comic relief to this conundrum. The trio of actors present a hilarious interpretation of a new family, with Ben Maries providing much humour in the form of an outrageously oversized three-month-old baby with a dirty nappy and even filthier loud mouth.
The few performances in the first Act are enough to tease the audience into maintaining interest throughout the interval and into the hour long second Act. After watching the majority of sketches, I was expecting them to fall into similar patterns and yet occasionally the execution of lines was quite surprising – certain serious scenes are shaken up with amazingly accomplished comical interjections. Trina Tan’s delivery of her first line in ‘Bunny and The Bull’ by Paul King I found to be the most unexpected line in the entire show, and had the audience hooting with laughter all the way through the sketch. Due to the comic nature of the performances, each piece is dependent on a confidence of elocution. Becca Jones and Sasha Butler provide excellent portrayals of a Chicago “rat-pack” in Derrick Comedy’s ‘Mafia’, maintaining both the accent and comedic execution to a higher standard than others throughout the evening.
With some quite famous sketches in the line-up there was a certain sense of expectation felt by the audience. Personally, as a fan of ‘The Two Ronnies’, I was pleasantly surprised by its inclusion in the night’s entertainment and thought that the delivery of appropriate staging and props amounted to an excellent interpretation of the performance. Similarly, the
night ended with a scene from ‘Inglorious Bastards’ with Nick Gill as the comic interpretation of the Nazis SS officer whose outrageously exaggerated laughter challenges not only the fraudulent foreign officers but even the audience itself.
This was my first visit to the NNT, who presented such a hospitable evening, and I will definitely be returning for future productions. It’s a shame this performance is only running for two nights and definitely worth the student price ticket of £4. The Freshers’ Fringe would be a perfect alternative to a night out at Ocean if you’ve hit it too hard the night before; are strapped for cash or fancy embodying the stereotype of a typical well-cultured student.
Freshers’ Fringe will be running for one more night tonight (18th October) at the Nottingham New Theatre. For more information visit www.newtheatre.org.uk