Dan Allum-Gruselle and Comrie Saville-Ferguson, Cambridge Footlights members and cynics through and through, have taken the Fringe as an opportunity to discuss the meaning of obsolescence in our modern world. Described as a combination of The Matrix, Black Mirror, and Blade Runner, Obsolete is an exploration of what technology brings – and takes from – our lives.
The entire show is structured like a sales presentation about the benefits of a new technology which allows you to upload your consciousness to the internet; there are definitely some Apple Keynote undertones here, but with fewer AirPods and more existential dread. Allum-Gruselle, the straight man, plays our CEO Steve, while Saville-Ferguson fits very comfortably into the role of endearing but dopey sidekick, Bint.
The Black Mirror theme comes and goes throughout the show, as Allum-Gruselle and Saville-Ferguson gently mock other topics through the medium of sketches (Eurovision, Bill Gates, Internet Explorer – nothing is sacred here). There are moments of genuine darkness here – the duo aren’t afraid to really hone in on more sombre tropes, before lightening the mood with a ridiculous impression of Andy Murray.
As with all sketch shows, there are stronger skits and weaker skits – the flashback into Bint’s past isn’t particularly effective, but Allum-Gruselle’s approximation of Tinky Winky from the Teletubbies, complete with a coat hanger on his head, was a humorous bastardisation of a beloved kids’ classic. Their musical numbers are really excellent, especially as the first song sets the tone for the rest of the hour (dystopian, with a hint of giddy).
Obsolete is an enjoyable physical manifestation of Gen-Z angst – the planet is on fire, we’re never going to get stable employment – oh, and Jeff Bezos owns our souls. But for such grim subject matter, it is a good laugh indeed.