In an intense season of exams, deadlines, and all-round chaos, I made my way to The Library pub for a couple of hours of relaxation, as a break from the hectic few weeks in university before the Christmas holidays. I figured that a bit of comedy was exactly what I needed, and I certainly wasn’t let down. Led by Char Hutchinson, the entire company was bursting with energy, and a complete joy to watch.
On their website, The Leeds Tealights describe themselves as “the University of Leeds’ oldest and most prestigious sketch group”, touring their work across the United Kingdom and completing a full Edinburgh Fringe run annually. This particular show was fixated around the concept of some of last year’s members moving on to new projects, outside of The Tealights. With this, the company could really showcase their brand-new comedians (Emma Dodd and Kieran Price) and explore an array of exciting, untouched concepts for sketches.
The show opened in true Tealights style: a full dance routine paired with cheesy tunes that you can’t help but snigger at. (I have to admit that this was something that, with two new members, and the departure of Em Humble, I was a little worried was going to be missed out. Thank goodness it wasn’t!) The sheer joy on Kieran Price’s face whilst participating in this publicly for the first time was equally as hilarious as it was adorable; I have never felt so connected to Instagram influencers’ notions of people “living their best lives”.
If I had to choose my favourite sketches, for me, two stand out among the others. Firstly, the repeated motif of Arch Osmond and Ben Williams’s physical, ‘to-me-to-you’ gag had me in stitches every time; their friendship is so apparent on stage, which only makes their work together even funnier. Reminiscent of old-school mimes and clowning, their ah’s, oh’s, grunts and breaths of relief shouldn’t have been as funny as they were, but still somehow tickled the audience whenever they performed it, like clockwork. Secondly, despite being one of the shortest, the “I’m a huge fan” sketch made me absolutely howl. The length of time that we were left watching Emma Dodd rotate whilst puffing air out of her mouth prior to the punchline was perfect. In fact, the whole show’s comic timing was to die for.
It has to be noted that the entire piece was very much led by Char Hutchinson, who stole the show. Whenever she was on stage, I found myself watching her over the rest of the cast, despite their individual comic strengths. Whether this is due to her stage presence, performative energy, or impeccable facial expressions, I am unsure, however I know that I would love to see her performing in this style again.
As well as this, I did question a couple of the sketches’ originality. A few other members of the audience and I recognised some as tweets that had blown up in the months prior to the show. For example, I remember reading the skit that saw a couple questioning if they wanted children, before revealing that they actually already have them, and kicking them out of the house. (Because I retweeted it in a heartbeat.) However, I suppose, theatre and comedy does not try to reinvent the wheel; it is important that we make use of the fruitful sources around us in everyday life, as well as those in the studio.
To conclude, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with The Leeds Tealights on Monday evening. I can’t wait to see what they come up with for their Edinburgh Fringe run in the Summer, and hope to see more of them all soon. Congratulations, guys!
Words by Morgan Hartley.