Brimming with Wit: Midsomer Mergers, the 2015 Law Revue

Justine Landis-Hanley passes judgment on the 2015 University of Sydney Law Revue.

My mother used to tell me that lawyers were simply wannabe actors; that brimming with a love of drama and a natural flair for spinning bull, they opt for a more secure and consistently well-paid career before the court as a means of satisfying a socially oppressed lust for a life on the stage. Of course these allegations may be denounced as mere speculation. But if it pleases the Court, this council submits that, if the 2015 Sydney University Law Revue is anything to go by, there is some truth to the idea that law students are secretly triple-threat talents brimming with wit and a hatred for conservative politics.

The 2015 Sydney Law Revue, Midsomer Mergers, delivered. It delivered two hours of delicious harmonies, tightly choreographed numbers and cringe-worthy show-smiles. It delivered Liberal-government bludgeoning, wordplay and nudity (albeit in the form of a line-up of young law students cupping their bits and pieces in the name of living up to the revue’s scandalous reputation). It delivered, as promised by the opening narration, “… more ribbing than a condom, and more people than Kings Cross – so more than zero people”.

The show began with a vocally strong and entertaining group number that paid tribute to the anxiety faced by our generation in our narcissistic digital age of selfies and Facebook-likes. Director Lachlan Cameron set the benchmark high for following performances, slaying on lead with his impressive soprano vocals.

But the scattered musical numbers continued to exceed expectations, ranging from an intricate a cappella ‘Fever’ parody about FIFA corruption, a student versus Christopher Pyne battle version of Les Miserables’ ‘Confrontation’, Bronwyn Bishop ft. The Statue of David and a helicopter, a choral rendition of ‘Bad Blood’ describing an apocalyptic world where Shorten is a lizard, and a hilarious closing play on ‘Ice-Ice Baby’ showcasing co-director’s Tash Gillezeau rapping skills, that called out the heterosexual-allies of the gay rights movement (‘you call me bi but I would never lick a cunt’).

The show’s centerpiece (to the tune of Michael Jackson songs) saw a smoking-jacket-donned Tony Abbott at home with a hoard of playboy bunnies inviting us to “come and browse my holy unit, learnt from the Jesuit”. Julie Bishop quickly interrupted telling that ‘if you’ve got a same sex partner or independent thought, better move to Sweden’, and a Joe Hockey rounding out the performance with the logic we have come to know and love of our federal treasurer (‘We all know that poor folk don’t drive’).

The real stand-outs of the show were the AV sketches. Their detailed replica of a ‘Midsomer Murders’ episode about the whipped-cream scone killer was like something out of the tv-series itself.

A special mention must go to Hayden Tonazzi, who demonstrated some serious vocal and acting diversity, playing roles ranging from an enraged Jean Valjean-like student, a Charlie Chaplain-eque dancer, Joe Hockey, and melting-hearts with a parody of Hozier’s “Take me to Church’ (Take me to Brunch). Diana Reid was another stand out of the night, stealing the skits and earning laughs with renditions of Jennifer Lawrence (“I’m so down to earth I’m actually on the ground!”), and a drunken, murderous 21st speechmaker. Ellen Laughton’s Taylor Swift was a highlight, and I give a strong and distinct round of applause to the band for rounding out the show with smooth backing arrangements and stand alone musical interludes that ranged from the Arthur theme song to We are the Champions’. Yes, yes you are band.

My real and only major criticism of the show is the number of sketches that were scatted between the major musical numbers and video content. Some of them were genuinely entertaining (a voice-over of David Stratton reviewing Pornhub’s ‘Back Door Sluts’), or stupidly funny (a murderous lectern by the name of ‘Hannibal’). But it was clear that others were thrown in as fillers in last-minute desperation, and resultingly yielded only courteous half-hearted chuckles.

Ultimately, this did little to detract from what was a polished, engaging and highly entertaining revue, that was ultimately carried through by its talented and tight ensemble cast.

I’m contemplating going back to law school just so I can audition for next year’s show.