Charles Booth: Deer in the Spotlights
Surprisingly old-fashioned and mean-spirited sketch material
This article is from 2015.
Charles Booth’s energetic character comedy Deer in the Spotlights begins with its eponymous skit. It moves directly from the animal’s near-death experience to a long, impressively athletic dramatisation of a series of stock characters representing the sperm of the deer’s father. The tone is set for a series of long, thoroughly drawn-out sketches in which every possible drop of humour is wrung from punchlines that wouldn’t have looked out of place in the 1970s.
Booth’s performance style centres around his rangy, almost balletic movement and a clear talent for embodying a character and mimicking a range of accents. These admirable skills, however, are tied to material noticeably lacking in depth and insight; but worse than that, it regularly relies on harmful stereotypes.
Among the numerous grim instances of homophobia, misogyny and cultural essentialism is a scene that presumably references Rachel Dolezal, a white American woman who claimed to be ‘trans-racial’ in order to gain a scholarship at a historically black university. Booth (who is also white) exploits this episode by affecting a heavy Nigerian accent and repeating the transphobic comparisons that abounded at the time. Like many others, the sketch lacked purpose and dragged on long after its point had been made. Deer in the Spotlights has a talented performer held back by tired and often hateful material.
Just the Tonic at The Mash House, 226 0000, until 30 Aug, 5.20pm, £5–£6 (£4–£5).