‘The C Bomb’, OUDS New Writing Festival: chlamydia has never been so funny

To say I went into The C Bomb – a comedy about chlamydia – with reservations would be an understatement. To say these reservations were obliterated within minutes would not be an overstatement. In combining Katie Sayer’s writing talent with Agnes Pethers’ directing excellence, a masterpiece is created.

The C Bomb addresses Chloe (Alma Prelec) and her struggles navigating the issues surrounding telling her recent one-night stands that they may have chlamydia. As a broke student, the best way she sees to do this is through a party… inviting all of them. Naturally hilarity ensues.

There was a range of humour: dry, political, physical, and all tastes were catered for. This continues in the blatant stereotyping of the characters: the vegan, the jock, the stoner, the ‘nice guy’ and the Tory. They may not have been fully relatable, but they certainly seem familiar.

Kat (Phoebe Griffith) and Jack (Alex McQuarrie) were the unsung heroes of the show. No character is completely deplorable. Dave (Jake Rich) and Albert (Albert McIntosh) do come close at various points. But Kat and Jack restored the audience’s faith in humanity, until the surprisingly moralising ending ties up any doubts that we’re left with. They provided a sometimes questionable voice of reason, and were refreshingly relatable.

Not only was The C Bomb hilarious, but it was well-crafted, thanks to producer Eve Stollery. The lighting design (Katie Heslop and William Hayman) was understated, yet brought a gritty realness to the piece. The same can be said of the set design (Anna Spence), which divided the stage into two rooms. The device of a bead curtain was used to excellent effect in this regard.

One bone of contention was the presence of Harold (Aryan Coram). He was under-sold and fairly arbitrary. Coram did drum up a few laughs, but these were at the expense of some of the integrity of the show. The characters up until this point had been stereotypical on the surface, but clearly had a rich depth. Both Flinn Andreae and Prelec are to be commended for their rich characterisation, going deeper than the boundaries of the script. Not one character – save Harold – was thrown away.

Generally the actors remained in character, impressive considering some spent a lot of time pretending to watch Midsomer Murders. The audience appreciated this running gag, although I’m unsure most (myself included) fully understood it. McIntosh did break character at points, struggling to subdue his laughter. He cannot be blamed, however, as it was opening night and the audience were dissolving in giggles throughout.

It may have been awkward in the extreme, but the audience were shielded from this and allowed to enjoy The C Bomb in comfort. Unlike Chloe (who purportedly dishes out ‘pity likes’ on Instagram), I was genuinely enamoured by this piece.