Review: Com Soc’s A Streetcar Named Shakira

4 stars

Have you ever dreamt of witnessing a real, live witch burning? Or getting the inside scoop on Gwyneth Paltrow’s successful skincare range? Maybe not, but “A Streetcar Named Shakira” is a comedy sketch show which will give you just those things (and more). Bursting with originality, confidence and energy, this innovative performance engages the audience and delivers a night full of side-splitting laughter.

Under producer (Sally Johnson), assistant producers (Emma Raby and Katie Garvin) and directors (Jenny Recaldin and Will Lamb), the cast successfully navigate through a range of entertaining impressions and witty dialogue. The sketches vary in content matter, spanning from a nostalgic group performance based on the 2007 children’s series “Trapped!” to musical numbers with clever lyrics, so there’s something for everybody.

Some of the funniest moments take place when the entire cast are on stage. They have a good group chemistry, bouncing off each other and timing the punchlines to gags well. The acting and use of accents overcomes the limitations in terms of props and costume (which a student-led society inevitably comes up against), so that each sketch is easy to follow and entertaining throughout. Lighting and sound are used effectively, particularly in the instances when a “voiceover” effect is created. Initially, the bodiless voice emerging from the darkness could be considered unnerving, but it helps to create suspense (particularly in the gameshow-like “Trapped!” sketch). Each cast member gives a confident performance, unafraid to fill up space onstage and fully commit to their character – no matter how absurd they might be.

A Streetcar Named Shakira Promotional Picture 2

Image Credit: Com Soc

Charlie Emery gives a particularly memorable performance as Gwyneth Paltrow, using physical actions to add to the hilarity of the script and staying in character throughout. Milly Parker and Mac Adams also deserve credit for their execution of an impressively well-sung musical comedy sketch with some political undertones. Adding some apt impressions into the mix, Siôn Watkins is a hit with the audience as Owen Wilson. Mo Johnson shocks the audience into laugher in her roles as a French person with no filter and as a young girl playing spin the bottle for the first time, gaining their approval from the off. Last but not least, in an impressive show of acting, Jojo Maberly manages to convincingly portray a deadpan murderess despite uproarious laughter from the audience.

A few jokes emerge multiple times throughout the show, effectively breaking up chunkier scenes with bizarre one-liners. Although I enjoy these more quick-paced gags, I feel that they lose the advantage of surprise when they are repeated for the second and third times. However, these over-arching themes help to link the show together into a cohesive structure and so are a necessary addition.

The Exeter Comedy Society deserves commendation for not only their brilliant actors, but also their original and innovative writers. The material is both relatable, in some cases, drawing on experiences that many students will find recognisable, and in some circumstances absurd enough to shock the audience.

Overall, “A Streetcar Named Shakira” is an excellent way to sit back and relax with your friends. It’s evident that a great deal of thought and dedication has gone into this production and that the cast (and subsequently the audience) are truly enjoying themselves. I am truly impressed with the incredible material and the professionalism of the actors.

– Natalie Groves 


Featured Image Credit: Com Soc

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