From the moment you arrive at The Cockpit, hidden away down the streets of Marylebone, you can be reassured that the evening will provide you with refreshingly entertaining comedy – despite the flyer’s promise to ‘leave you all equally appalled’, there is, thankfully, not a single dick joke in ear shot. An audience of students ranging from the wannabe hipster to the proud to be preppy, you can be certain that this comedy isn’t going to resort to offensive rape jokes to get its laughs. Camels is a side-splittingly funny show, with clever punch lines, creatively choreographed sketches, and well-timed comic precision. Patrick McPherson and Zac Peel work together like clockwork and have written a highly enjoyable show.
The sketches move swiftly from one to the next and it is a relief to watch a show that is neither self-indulgent nor offensive. Both virtuoso actors, they shift between accents and characters fast enough to keep even the most unfocused audience members engaged. Taking place during freshers’ week for many of the London universities, there are some amusingly appropriate sketches. An enthusiastic first year student is put in his place by a second year with a power-complex, and the embarrassments of trying to impress a girl at a club are likened to awkward conversations at year 11 discos about how many science GCSEs you are doing.
While there is some requirement for an audience’s cultural knowledge, these extend to nursery rhymes, the knights of the round table, and, of course, the Bible. Expertly managing the line between slapstick comedy and cultural irony, the actors never take themselves too seriously, avoiding a Stoppardian specificity that would no doubt baffle even the most willing audience. Dead geckos called Bruce are juxtaposed with a clever satire of Judas Iscariot, and groan worthy punch lines are set next to comic physical precision. Patrick McPherson’s presentation of a call centre employee wasting time while their client waits on hold shows a delightful physical confidence. Likewise, Zac Peel’s focaccia interpretation (yes, flat breads do have emotions…) is a stunning little moment. A father’s words of wisdom on ‘egg-day’ is a simple but brilliant sketch, and an innuendo filled conversation revealing Guinevere’s affair with Sir Lancelot is performed with wonderful comic flair. Even the simple opening line of ‘Can everyone see me,’ sets the audience off into giggles.
Expertly produced by Indigo Theatre, and directed with a keen eye for detail by Cassia Price, Camels is a show to look out for next time it comes to London. To find such carefully created comedy and a show that avoids cheap jokes or offensive parody, is a rare treat.