The Enthusiastic Learning Curve: Orange is the New Blackboard, the 2015 Education Revue

Robert Boddington learns a new thing every day

I went into the Reginald Theatre with my head filled with the hearsay of those who had watched the 2014 Education Revue, worried that my sobriety would affect the viewing of this sketch show. But no. It is safe to say that I had a good time. Admittedly, nothing more, but certainly nothing less.

I chuckled my way through most of the show, with only one Dracula dating sketch descending into the realm of the terrible. Particularly mirthful moments were a termite wood-tasting, a simple physical number about finding love in a toilet to the tunes of Lionel Ritchie, and a brilliant take on a Lynx deodorant ad which had a twist punchline that I nearly choked over.

The writers and directors of this show definitely knew one thing: when to end a sketch. There was no faff around the punchline for most sketches, and they ended sharply, giving the audience very little time to lose enthusiasm between jokes. Snappy sketch followed snappy sketch, and whenever a long scene popped its head up it was clear why they kept it short, as the lack of escalation or build caused sluggish pace until another speedy punchline brought the energy back. The recurring sketches of ‘Be Brave, Vote Dave’ and the murderous narrators were also weaknesses of an otherwise well written show.

Musical sketches were a mixed bag, with several just saying the same joke over and over again. A Taylor Swift parody about procrastination was amusing but I just wished it went somewhere, but then again it was about procrastination so that might have been the idea. A lovely musical homage to a dog was a little misplaced, and left the audience confused as to whether they should be laughing, but it was well sung and coupled with a pretty dance number. It was very nice, but I don’t know why it was there.

The cast as a whole lacked in delivery, but made up for it with the enjoyment they had on stage and the energy that comes with that. Their dealings with stuff-ups were brilliant, and a major honourable mention goes to Marcus Wong for his management of a wardrobe malfunction as a magician that I hope to God happened every other night because Holy Hell it was just beautiful to watch.

In between sketches, however, was a different matter. Long black outs left the audience to entertain themselves and the video sketches left me utterly confused or totally bored. The small band occasionally lacked in oomph but overall did a fine job.

A befuddling factor was the continuous usage of male names. When you have such a strong female representation in a cast, I didn’t understand why almost all characters, bar those that had to be women, were a ‘Mr’. I just kept hearing of Timothies and Daves. Surely you could just change the names?

Despite some shortcomings, I did have an enjoyable night. A nice regular amount of education jokes met with a tidy sum of snappy and fun sketches delivered by a cast who’s talent was not in acting but in enthusiasm, and kept reminding me ‘hey, it’s a revue, it’s fun and it’s silly, it’s not meant to be Hamlet.’

A stand-out of the night was Karla Sevenoaks whose dry wit and great character acting brought out the best in everything she played. An honourable mention should also go to Stephanie Barahona for her performance of a confectionary pun speech. That she could remember it all and deliver it with the conviction she managed is an impressive feat.

But please, Education Revue, if you are going to show that many pictures of micro-pigs, follow through and provide live micro-pigs for the sake of catharsis. I spent the rest of the night wanting a micro-pig.