Last year a reviewer commented that Placebo Royale was comparable to cancer. Med Men’s first act seemed to eschew the exploitative humour of its forebear, which provoked swathes of audience members to walk out early. The second half of the show, however, expertly demonstrated why they were probably right not to return.
First the good: as an exhibition of technical talent, the music of Med Men was damn near flawless. Vocal performances canvassed the endless grind of being both a mother and a doctor; an operatic, choral rendition of ‘Let It Be’, retitled ‘Let Me Pee’, considered the anxiety of the blank urinal; and a mash-up of ABBA hits celebrated the catharsis of gender reassignment surgery for trans-women (‘Dancing Queen’) and poked fun at the avarice of dermatologists (‘Money’).
Due in part to the quality of performances, the skits felt like fill-ins for the musical numbers. Several seemed only half-formed, plucked from the ether of ‘Topical Jokes: 2013’. Most dragged a little too long and would’ve fared better cut a tad shorter. The band was airtight, though; their interludes managed to patch up a few extended blackouts and technical difficulties.
And now the bad: I realised, in the space between anticipating racist and sexist humour and experiencing it, the standard we clap for hazily at a revue is the standard we accept. I managed to blot out the first sketch, which simplified Mexico to a troupe of sombrero-wearing, moustache-toting, gun-wielding cartoons; but succeeding skits and songs, which trivialised domestic violence and made sexual ornaments out of women, turned an awkward half-grin into a permanent grimace.
My advice for next year: stick to the benign, even if it is a little bland. The crowd stuck with you, and cheered charitably in your awkward moments; we, at least, appreciated your efforts. The racist, sexist and malignant comedy that you employ will get you more jeers than cheers.