IN THIS TIME of accurate satire and wellaimed insult in the London theatre (Beyond the Fringe) and nightclubs (the Second City group at The Establishment), six Canadians recently made the long journey overseas armed only with the most conventional of rubber daggers. Cosy and only fitfully amusing, their revue, Clap Hands, might even enjoy a long run in London, if only because it’s so trite. The Canadian revue at the Lyric, Hammersmith — a sort of Spring Thaw anthology, with Dave Broadfoot, Jack Creley,. Araby Lockhart, Corinne Conley, Eric House and Peter Mews — is reassuringly cute and certainly not, as they say, too clever by half. On the contrary, it’s not half clever enough.
Clap Hands doesn’t knock anything all warmhearted boneheads are not already against. There arc no intellectual depth charges exploded, no assaults on accepted platitudes, and the wit, such as it is, would not be over the head of any twelve-year-old. One skit is even more predictable than another. If, say, a suburban housewife takes French lessons you can bet your bottom dollar her tutor (ze Frenchman) is also her lover. The group, as nice and liberal a bunch as you’ll ever meet, is against the Bomb, Togetherness, segregation, Hollywood phonies, and so forth, without having anything original to say about them. It’s one thing for a revue to fall back on the occasional cliche, another to enshrine them all. London’s morning-after reviewers, as you may have read elsewhere, were at their kind and condescending best. Murder by faint praise was the rule. Typical comments were full of good cheer, rarely malicious, and never wounding. Only Bernard Levin, no Commonwealth sentimentalist, was bored. He wrote in the Daily Mail that it was much as if news of the breakthrough made by Mort Sahl and others in America and led by the Fringe group here had yet to penetrate Canada.
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