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A Race Odyssey Review: A Hilarious Trial Run

Adam Chalmers reviews the promising ACAR Revue debut.

In their very first show, the Autonomous Collective Against Racism proved themselves a welcome addition to USyd’s revue season. Their debut performance had some truly excellent moments, some sketches which failed miserably, a host of technical mess-ups, and some musical numbers which left the crowd raucously applauding long after the lights had gone down. In other words: they delivered a true University of Sydney Revue, warts and all.

The show had its strong ups and downs. Some sketches had particularly ingenious creatives premises. Highlights included the satirical video sketch “Ban the Birkenstock”, and a sketch where a bomb technician wouldn’t cut a red wire because she “doesn’t see colour – we have to treat all wires equally!” They had a very punchy parody of the intro to How To Get Away With Murder (turns out the answer is “Be White”). I laughed every time Richard Dawkins burst on stage to furiously nitpick someone’s off-the-cuff comments. Scott Morrison was another recurring favorite, especially when he refused to comment on maritime, land-based, aerial, Earthbound, extraterrestrial and intergalactic operations. Their Game of Thrones sketch had some genuinely funny puns – I’d love to know how the White People Walkers’ invasion of Westernsuburbs turned out.

Not all sketches were that strong. A number of them ended with no clear punchline or resolution. The show should probably have cut 30 minutes of sketches. But it’s obvious that ACAR Revue has some excellent writers among them. Next year, they should get those writers teaching the rest of the cast, so that their 2016 show has more highs and less lows.

At times, you could tell the show was under-rehearsed. Sound and lighting cues were often missed. Performers sometimes forgot to project, so the audience missed many jokes and punchlines. Sometimes you could see an actor reading off the script they’d carefully concealed under a table. But most of these problems occur in larger, better-rehearsed revues as well. They’re an inevitable and much-loved part of the revue process. A Race Odyssey ran remarkably well for a show which had neither tech rehearsal nor dress rehearsal nor director. All fuckups were immediately forgiven by the audience, who were having such a good time that they didn’t care.

I feel like A Race Odyssey was the trial run for ACAR’s 2016 show. This year’s cast convinced me that they have the acting, writing and musical talent to put on an amazing show. ACAR Revue’s highs made me laugh until I hurt. The lows will be worked out with more rehearsal and direction in next year’s show. Overall, I was incredibly impressed by ACAR Revue’s dedication and enthusiasm. Sure, performers occasionally read their lines from a script – but they always delivered their lines with energy, passion and comic timing. Their 2015 was a hilarious, if inconsistent, debut. I think their 2016 show will blow my mind.