Callum Straford: Oops

Reviewed by Colin Flaherty

In his show Oops, Callum Staford presented what seemed to be a low rent version of The Play That Goes Wrong. Unfortunately despite his impressive confidence the script was lukewarm and he lacked the skills to pull off this type of material.

There were plenty of clever ideas, some even led to a giggle or two. The constant self-referential comments about his “failings” was heavy-handed and did nothing to cover for the patchy script. We were all on board with the fact that he was deliberately messing things up and performing badly but a lack of comedic exaggeration caused it to sail too close to amateurism. His mime and clowning skills were competent enough, he was certainly unafraid to look foolish, but he didn’t play things big enough or sell it with energy and his timing was often way off. One sketch about a particular Fab Four attempted to get some laughs from a recent documentary but was handled so poorly (even whilst being presented as a bad parody) that it was pure cringe.

The sketches in this show were very silly flights of fancy but ultimately a little lacklustre. Links between sketches were smooth and plentiful but they lacked decent tags to make the scenes worthwhile. The overarching theme of the underdog continually trying and ultimately failing should have has us rallying behind him but he kept the stakes so low that what was intended to be a triumphant finale turned out rather anticlimactic.

The final portion of the show was an attempt at semi-serious introspection that didn’t sit well with all the silly artifice that preceded it. This monologue was wishy washy and the only conclusion we came away with was “Shit happens…deal with it!”

On the positive side, Staford is an affable stage presence and talented musical performer, accompanying himself on keyboard and ukulele, with a singing voice that carries the tunes well. He managed to inject some witty lines into some of the songs and they were at the very least entertaining.

This was a meh performance that frustratingly had a glimmer of potential below the surface that in the hands of someone else could have been great.

Oops is on at Bard’s Apothecary until April 23