Fresher’s Play, 50 Shades of Bedlam plays out rather like a student initiation at Potterrow; that is, excluding the offensively sticky floor and atmosphere of intense claustrophobia. What is presented, however, tests the limit of how much lasciviousness and absurdity one can gorge on in one evening.
Comedy provides the core of 2014’s Freshers’ Play, every sketch a short jest, relying on a surplus of gaudy props and polystyrene wigs to fuel the narrative. Even so, it is the beauty of this simplicity that enables the audience to partake in some good, plain fun. A sense of gusto was evident on stage, whilst youthful enthusiasm glowed in the performance of each cast member, no matter how bizarre the costume or how flammable the hairpiece.
Whilst some performances thrived on their highly unrealistic plots, there were moments in which ridiculousness did, perhaps, get the better of itself. The evening’s standout play, The Truth about Lady Felkirk, can only be described as a crime tour-de-force involving an elderly couple and a mysterious case of Panamanian methamphetamine. This caught the attention of the audience and had everyone laughing at the sheer absurdity of the performance.
Gasps of sheer disbelief could be heard as the show’s Host, responsible for introducing each play, took to the stage clutching only a Santa Claus beard and a felt cowboy hat to his nether-regions. Although this was perhaps the most lewd moment of the play, it can be wholeheartedly stated that 50 Shades of Bedlam is, as the title suggests, not for those with a sensitive disposition.
Despite a minor waning in entertainment value as a result of a few weaker plays, the overall sense of enjoyment, by the end of the night, was still very much intact. Owing itself to great comic timing and a cast of passionate actors, the flaws in the production mostly worked only to accentuate its charm. What can be epitomized as a truly unique experience, Bedlam’s 2014 Fresher’s Play is a wickedly wanton life-force of its own.