Before we start this review, can we all agree that the root of comedy is subversion of expectations?
The build up to this year’s Architecture Revue was very strong, yet modest. It had a buzzworthy title that was an authentic showcase of their sense of humour, well-designed and attractive promotional material and no history of negativity. When I bought my $5 ticket, I was expecting a small, fun little show with some decently crafted sketches. And boy howdy, how my expectations were subverted.
The set was stunning, of course. I feel like the main reason that Architecture Revue exists is to give architecture students access to the Reginald theatre and make doors. If there’s one thing I can say about Architecture Revue, they sure know their doors.
If I could sum up the sketches in one word it would be: limited. I can count all the sketches on one very small hand. This wasn’t your traditional “sketch” comedy show. They don’t adhere to your “formulas” and your “structures” and your “comedy”. 95% of the show was this odd…mess of a story. A story that I would love to explicate in detail but I’ll just list a few highlights: a monologue in Russian without subtitle or explanation while an unexceptional mime moves around in the background, a really peculiar story structure with separate protagonists for each act for no reason, and death after death after death after death after death.
Featuring such memorable characters as a talking phone, God the Ladylover, Detective “This doesn’t taste like cream, this is semen” O’Really, and the recurring monkey puppet who kept popping up to explain the story and leave, it was a beautiful mess. I honestly and sincerely enjoyed all of these aspects of the show. I’ve never seen a theatre production quite like it. It was honest and dumb and I absolutely would see it as many times as I have seen ‘The Room’.
(Small shout out to Cody Jones, whose energy and stage presence kept the audience alive with some genuinely entertaining performances.)
However as perfect as this show was, there was a disappointing amount of dudeshit. The opening sketch was a grandfather singing a song to his grandchildren about all the men she blows. Mm. The coda had us on the edge of our seats wondering if the final word was going to be “whore” or “slut”. It was “tramp” which feels like they thought it was old-fashioned sounding enough that it’s acceptable. Other dudeshitness in the show was the recurring obsession with dildos, strippers, women being crazy, women being sex objects and women not being cast as funny characters. Kudos to the women who made it through to the end. Hopefully one of you can direct next year.
Despite this, I had a terrific time watching this show. It had everything from architecture students to audience members. I was quite surprised about the quality of the show considering it doesn’t have the same stigma that the continuously poorly received Engineering Revue has. And let’s be honest, these people aren’t doing this so they can get into the Australian comedy scene. They’re university students having fun on stage without any comedic egos that need stroking as evidenced by their one-page program and only first name credits. These people are going to make buildings pop out while I’ll still be struggling to end sentences nice.
All in all though, my expectations were successfully subverted and it was the best $5 I’ve ever spent.