This year’s Science Revue, Darwins and Dragons, was highly enjoyable. Eschewing the heavy reliance on narrative that has often weighed down Science Revues, the show moved quickly between varied, energetic sketches. Sketches were well-constructed, many going beyond a simple realization of a premise, but not dragging out the scene beyond a natural punchline. There was some good play with repetition – notably the repeated UN takeover sketch, and a great running gag, of Tim McNaught’s DMX just smashing stuff, which stretched the rule of three to a rule of five quite successfully. The other highlight was Declan Maher and Hugo Venville’s beautiful slow sketch of one man making another uncomfortable about eating a chicken schnitzel, for several minutes.
The musical numbers were less successful than the straight sketches – the sound quality was poor, making a large proportion of the lyrics unintelligible, and muddying the band’s output. It was certainly the funniest band of the revue season, providing goofy moments as well as some great tunes in the second act. The broader issues with music were disappointing, however, as the musical sketches accounted for most of the female cast members’ leading roles. The closers for both acts, a rock opera featuring Bronwyn Hicks as Charles Darwin, was full of sound and fury, signifying not very much because we couldn’t make out a lot of it – unlike many revues, the lyrics were not projected on the screen during songs. Snatches of it seemed pretty decent. The same issue plagued a scientific rap battle, and a large, all-female number called ‘Kill All Men’, the satirical point of which was thus unclear. Kate Melville and Annabel Cameron were however great in a clear and simple Taylor Swift parody, backed purely by Josh Pearse on guitar. The acapella numbers worked well.
The choreography was well done, with a Doctor Who dance being notably exciting, without the use of words. The video sketches were very good, and also starred men. It was a fairly smooth show, with many very good sketches, and though the lyrics were often lost, the energy never was.