I hope that Sabbathday Night Fever, as this year’s first revue, is an omen of shows to come. For if just some of this year’s revues live up to the standards it set, 2015’s revue season will be one of the best yet.
Entering the theatre, I was delighted by how much fun the band was having and continued to have all night. When performers enjoy their work it always reflects well on that work, and this was no exception.Even more delightful were music director Daniel Cullen’s consistently witty lyrics, sung beautifully by David Politzer, Jacinta Gregory, Jared Choong, and Will Allington
A series of short AVs interspersed throughout act one did wonders for its already well-balanced pace. These made clever use of an iconic commercial’s tropes and over several videos pushed them to their weirdest extremes, garnering increasing and well-deserved laughter with each video.
Indeed Sabbathday made more impressive use of recurring jokes than any revue I’ve seen. The show’s most noteworthy recurring character, played to perfection by Jack Savage, was adored by the show’s audience, who cheered his every entrance, laughed hysterically throughout his scenes, and on opening night (unprompted and unexpectedly) sang for him.
Other larger-than-life characters dominated their own, singular scenes. Jestika Chand as a dignified matriarch executed a twist ending so well that I laugh out loud every time I think about it. And Anna Rowe delivered her monologue about a trick you fell for at school with such passion, emotion, and power that I almost cried. An absurd monologue about one of the stupidest pranks in existence was delivered so well it made a critic teary.
As it were, great delivery was equalled by the quality of the script itself, which boasted a wonderful variety of subject matter. A great number of sketches drew laughter from sheer absurdity, with parody, genre, pop culture references, observational comedy, and Jewish humour all put to skilled use. This diversity resulted in a show with something for everyone.
Many of these sketches utilised props to great effect, for which the efforts of props manager Bronwyn Hicks should be praised. Much of her work was absolutely necessary for a large portion of Sabbathday’s jokes to succeed, and even in auxiliary roles her props invariably improved sketches. Indeed the backstage crew as a whole worked excellently, Hicks being paradigmatic of the whole.
All things considered, directors Bruno Dubosarsky and Declan Maher have set the bar for 2015 revues dizzyingly high. Their iteration of Jew Revue is musically charming, utterly hilarious, and wonderfully varied. And they should feel immensely proud.