'Speechless' opens tonight at the ADC Theatre. The show's Producer, ISSY SNAPE, tells us about this innovative comedy show that doesn't use any spoken words...
Speechless is an experimental multimedia sketch show for the technological ‘fake news’ era. Set in a parallel universe, politicians tire of comedians undermining their power, resulting in a dictatorial decree bans all comic speech. Jokers have their tongues cut out and branded with an ‘X’ across their mouth. An illicit underground club starts in a desperate bid to keep comedy alive: deprived of their voices, the performers use their physicality, subtitles, projections, sound effects, overdub, recorded lines, audio description and the audience themselves to create laughter and rebel. Over the course of the hour, the performers come up with ever more inventive ways of making sketches beyond their voices, such as a flight safety talk gone wrong, a drug deal and a pretentious GCSE drama piece utilising the artistic stimulus of ‘The Hungry Caterpillar”. Speechless is a devised show about the importance of communication, the dangers of censorship and the universal appeal of comedy.
Wednesday 24th will be a relaxed performance: making it accessible to all those neurodiverse or disabled. Special efforts have been made to ensure this: including quieter sound, lighting alterations and freedom of movement.
The project was born as a reaction against the word-based humour so prevalent on the student comedy scene and the wider world, with stand-up and panel shows taking centre stage. By returning to the more visual, we create a show which is much more imaginative - forcing the writers to think laterally and utilise the full abilities of the performers’ bodies, using every facet of their acting ability.
Rather than just another mime show, Speechless uses technology to augment performance, with sketches written incorporating projection, videos, music, shadow puppets, subtitles and lights. Heavily stylised, the performers are clad in black and white striped T-shirts representing both the heritage of mime artists and their status as prisoners. The show is proud to be devised completely by the entire company, from the sketches to the music to the videos. Every member is a valued part of the team, and everyone works together to create concepts for the show. It was created in association with the Relaxed Theatre Company, an organisation created by two Cambridge thespians who wanted to create a safe space for performance.
However, will the show survive its run? Or has someone tipped off the authorities?
Speechless will take place at the ADC Theatre every night at 11pm until Saturday. You can buy tickets here.