Lighting Up the Stage: STRAIGHT TO HELL, the 2015 Queer Revue

Robert Boddington falls in love

The 2015 Queer Revue was, in the very weirdest of ways, a solid night of humour. It was a night where you spent much of your time not sure why you loved things but dead certain that you definitely still loved them.

To start with, it was a very absurd show. Most of its sketches ended without that final punch that ties the whole scene together. There was all the build-up but no catharsis. No snazzy one liner. No ‘this is what the joke is’ bit. The lights snapped down and you were left wondering whether you really got the entirety of the joke. Oftentimes this can damn a skit, but not in this show, and that was due to all the pre-punchline hype. The set-ups were well-written, well-delivered and full of fun. The audience was drawn into each sketch one by one. Any punchline void was filled with the earnestly invested little parts of the audience.

The show itself wasn’t without hiccups. Some jokes didn’t land due to absurd and overly hasty writing. This show definitely suffered from the director’s and writer’s desire to get to the end of the sketch. Particular instances were a ‘coming out of the closet’ sketch, a Ned Kelly sketch that I blinked and missed, and one sketch involving an Irish dancer (then again if you have someone who can Irish dance, why not write that sketch).

The band was lacklustre. Their musical numbers lacked energy and engagement, albeit nicely composed. I wasn’t bored but it was more background noise than memorable pieces. The sound balance between instruments was also out of whack. There was a guitar onstage that I just really wish I could’ve heard.

The few choice music and dance pieces in an otherwise strictly stage sketch show (the video sketches weren’t particularly memorable) just met the bar of the sketches themselves.  A wonderfully energetic number attempting to make guns seem sexier to the Left was the only real piece of dance in the show, and it was full to the brim of sass, swagger and just so much pizazz! It was a good spectacle (bar the fact that it ended without a punchline). A highlight for me from the small music and dance pool of this show was a parody of Frozen’s ‘Do You Wanna Build a Snowman’ about the fetishising of the trans community. For a song that is overdone in the parody world, this was a good’n. It was both comical and accessible for someone (namely me) who isn’t well-versed in gender theory.

The through-line created in this show is the most effective I’ve watched in a while. Very strong characters allowed these few thematic scenes to really stand alone but carry through the whole piece without a dip in the comedy. Applause should go to Imogen Hubber, whose portrayal of an obnoxious soccer mad kid could not have been better.

The final number of the show, a parody of ‘A Whole New World’, was a very intelligent way to end a show that had been such a good ride from the beginning. It gave focus to a night that most of the audience had laughed their way through with a good, clear message to remember; marriage equality is just the first step in the process of the world’s acceptance of the Queer community. It’s not necessarily an easy thing to get a sketch audience to remember the truth behind the comedy but this piece pulled it off, and without forcing it down the audience’s throats too.

The biggest asset this performance had, though, was in the members of the cast that lit up the stage. It was such a strong cast for such a small revue. There were many, many beautiful performances so here comes a nice list: Harry Winsome, Saha Jamieson and Jacob Grice just nailed everything, absolutely everything. Shevvi Barrett-Brown delivered an excellent diplomatic speech by a naughty child. Georgia Kriz had a relaxed, optimistic sass that made her a joy to watch onstage, particularly in a wonderful recurring sketch about the truths of lesbian sex (I liked the jaunty jingle that came with it). Imogen Hubber, again, was fantastic as a very emotional wolfwhistling builder. Ezra Miller should think about doing some serious acting roles if they haven’t already done so; their delivery was dramatic and powerful in all aspects.

But praise must go to Rory and Ezra (and Shevvi) for their delivery of the most incredible thing I’ve seen this revue season. I’m not even sure if I should call it a sketch. The tension, the drama, the lack of knowing what the actual hell was going on, Jack and Michael were truly incredible existential characters performed by two people whose dedication to the scene left me broken with mirth for the rest of the night. I salute those who wrote this sketch. You were gutsy to try and do that very anti-revue comedy piece, and it paid off. It really paid off. All 10 minutes of it. It was hands down the best sketch I’ve seen this year.