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ADC Online sets a cracking pace with opening week larks

‘Omegle With...’ featured three Cambridge student drag artists chatting to a fickle host
‘Omegle With...’ featured three Cambridge student drag artists chatting to a fickle host

So the ADC Theatre, like everybody else, has been obliged to pivot towards an online audience and has come up with a great way to establish contact with a new generation of online theatre-goers - ADC Online, which got properly under way this week in.

The Footlights Stand-Up Showcase opened its virtual doors on Tuesday with a programme that continues until June 16, with new shows due on May 19 at 9pm and June 2, also at 9pm.

The shows are worth catching live because it adds to the sense of occasion and, of course, you’re catching it raw, you never know what’ll happen. There is - as with Footlights through the generations - a patchwork quilt of performances, but all I would say is, guys, there’s a difference between having a rant and being funny. I mean, you can do both at the same time - in fact doing both at the same time is probably where the best comedy emerges, particularly for stand-ups. But just saying.

On Thursday there was comedy with ‘On Your Toes’, which was better paced and benefitted from having interactive segments where two female comedians were bantering: the sense of spontaneity markedly improved the improv and took it towards some amusing and unusual comic explorations, especially in the surreal and mildly dark ‘Cabin in the Woods’ segment.

Yesterday (May 9) had two offerings - for those demanding Friday night audiences, perhaps.

The evening began with ‘Omegle With...’. The show advertised itself as “the best of student drag, getting the inside on their craft, queerness and also offering some of their unique, time-tested wisdom for you at home”. Frankly, it was a glorious mess. Papa Joe, the inglorious moderator, chatted individually and en masse with three of Cambridge’s finest drag artists - Persephone, Sneeze and Charlene - and, you know, their make-up was superb. Obviously when they opened their mouths everything changed, but not much - actually nothing - seemed off-limits so that was fun.

And challenging: there is an interesting discussion - as the ensemble demonstrated - to be had about the price of performing oral sex on another human being (male human being, since women don’t really need to be paid to receive oral sex, such is the demand in the sector). So is £50 too little for such a service? There seemed to be some uncertainty about this - after all, if you’re already getting pleasure yourself from your selfless act, getting paid is kindof not the point really, although perhaps it might help add a bit of extra motivation. But Papa, he wasn’t too happy and seemed to think the ‘ladies’ should expect a lot more - money, that is - for their dedication. I’ve no idea where the moral high ground was here, but it was fun, and Papa Joe’s schtick - of pretending to be appalled yet at the same time egging the interviewees on - was worthy of Piers Morgan.

The evening got a bit more troubled - actually a lot more troubled - with ‘Sorry For Your Loss’, a radio play. The show proved a worthy addition to ADC’s canon of disruptive and indeed disconcerting artistic projects. ‘Sorry For Your Loss’ is set in a family home in Cambridge, where two grieving parents are trying to console each other over the very recent and very untimely death of their son, Eric. There’s a knock at the door. It’s someone who says he knew Eric well and wanted to say hello. The parents attempt to guide the visitor through the high points of Eric’s life but it’s the low points the visitor wants to discuss. It seems Eric bullied this fellow pupil/student relentlessly and systematically over many years. While the parents try to absorb this information, the stranger offers them £100,000 - then £200,000, then £250,000 - if they will permit him to deface their son’s grave.

The plot becomes ever more alarming, until finally it is brought to the boil by a further revelation which concludes the rather harrowing proceedings - but not before a schism has opened up between the mother and father, further adding to the destruction wrought by the stranger over this family’s lives. Revenge is a powerful drug, it seems, and perhaps best served cold, but warmed-up works too, as ‘Sorry For Your Loss’ demonstrates.

‘Monolaughs’ this evening looks equally intriguing, but the whole programme contains notable gems and adds a powerful new dimension to the ADC Theatre’s output.

ADC Online’s ‘Sorry For Your Loss’ is powerful radio theatre at its best
ADC Online’s ‘Sorry For Your Loss’ is powerful radio theatre at its best

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