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Leeds Tealights Review: It’s Your Own Time You’re Wasting


The Lending Room was packed on Monday night as students piled in for the latest Tealights show. Off the back of the success of ‘An Exciting Lucrative Business Opportunity’ last semester, the Tealights were back to offer another night of sketch comedy. This show titled ‘It’s Your Own Time You’re Wasting.’

 

Having missed their show in the Autumn, I headed in with high expectations off the back of last year’s group’s stellar success. We were greeted into the evening by Evie Cowen, comedian, MC, producer, writer and general tealight flaneur, who hectically but somewhat humorously explained that not only was there a faulting mic but one of tealights, Malachy, had lost his voice due to the ‘stress of the role’ and would be unable to perform for the evening. They asked for our understanding and kindness in the cobbled together show we were about to witness. The stage had been set and the night was underway.

 

A momentary diversion to mention the stellar supporting acts of Rebecca Harrison and Jemma. Softening the audience in for a night of comedy is not an easy feat but both fostered giggles out of the audience in different yet complimenting ways. Harrison’s soft spoken and often silent comedy gave space for their mesmerising reactions and non-verbal communication whilst Jemma’s bold and crude student humour didn’t go amiss at causing cackles.

 

The Tealights show began with establishing the evening’s through line. Alice Waller commanded on stage, keys dangling and hips wobbling depicting the hilariously unhinged teacher we are all a little familiar with. Addressing us as ‘year eight’ and telling us it was our ‘own time you're wasting,’ we were made aware that one of us needed to own up to ‘stealing the school’ (why else were we currently sat doing our year eight lesson in a room above a pub.) Luke Nolan entered depicting the cringe worthy teacher who wants to be down with the kids. Sam Dallamore-Hynd was the angry PE teacher who had swallowed his whistle, Harry Roberts the ancient cane-favouring teacher and Becky Hughes was the nervous substitute teacher mid breakdown. This set up which parodied characters oh too familiar to the audience meant I felt immediately comfortable in the hands of the group.


This understanding of their audience and ability to strike a relationship with them continued throughout the show. There was an obvious comfortability on the stage and with each other. You could not tell the whole hour show had been restructured that day which is a testament to the hard work of them all. For me, their strength lay in their acting and the longer character-based sketches had me roaring from my seat on the front row. There was an exquisite attention to detail and an awareness of audience reaction which allowed the jokes to be reacted to before being moved past.

 

Particular stand out moments were the High School Musical sketch which saw Troy talking to ‘the other lead’ who turned out to be the basketball in ‘Getcha Head in the Game,’ Nolan, Waller and Hughes’ dance moves partnered with a basketball face covering made for absurdly hilarious watching. I became rather hysterical at the sketch which parodied a drama workshop based on ‘real events.’ Humbling for the theatre crowd in the room, Waller, Roberts, Hughes and Dallamore-Hynd revealed a theatre class where ‘Ed’ a man obsessed with feet, Hamlet and ‘going further’ manages to scam a student out of their credit card details under the guise of theatre. I felt the sketches like this which parodied circumstances familiar to us all, like looking around a house, hinge profiles and dinner parties worked best. That being said, there was not a sketch in the whole show which fell flat and this is a testament to both the acting and the writing of the group.

 

The crowd in Lending Room whooped and cheered towards the end of the show as Mallachy O’Callaghan took to the stage to play the piano and perform (silently) in a sketch with Nolan where they rendered a crescendoing slow sultry version of ‘My Back’ which turned out to be being performed in a train station. They then called back to the starting narrative, revealing that Hughes’ teacher was in fact an Ofsted Inspector. Waller then startlingly shoots her before commanding to the year eights that they are now complicit in murder. An absurd ending to a brilliantly entertaining show. If they are causing such righteous laughter and performing at such a high standard with one man down and a hectically re-arranged show, I cannot wait to see them on full form.

 

Spat out into the Leeds evening, I kept smiling at the brilliance of the High School Musical sketch all the way home.


Words by Julia Brooks, she/her


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