To walk into the Reginald Theatre while Liberté, Egalité, Firing Squad is showing is to be transported into a world in which – just as George Christensen always warned – queer people have taken over. Two armed guards stand stone-faced at the door, armed with pink machine guns. At the centre of the stage, against the backdrop of an enormous rainbow flag, sits a throne, several milk crates high, decorated with all of the paraphernalia of the Queer Revolution. Even before the show had begun, the 2016 Queer Revue had announced what it was: bold, proud, and unapologetically extravagant.
Director Will Edwards has managed to produce a revue that is brimming with intelligent social commentary, yet successfully avoids becoming just another moralising lecture. Though recurring skits often have a tendency to become overdone and tired, the ongoing trial of “Prisoner CB” is fresh and skilful, tying together the absurdity of a talking dildo and the gut-wrenching drama of job candidates in the same show.
It was particularly impressive to witness the individual talent of each and every performer. Collectively, they take the audience on a rollercoaster-ride of emotions, making us laugh, cry, and in some of the raunchier sketches, feel things that we’ve possibly never felt before. Their commitment to each and every one of the characters is obvious, and means that whether they are Communist bees, post-structuralist cultists, or even card-carrying members of the Liberal Party, we believe them.
To name some highlights, Tom Mendes’ extraordinary rendition of a gay evictee on The Jerry Springer Show is particularly memorable. Other stand out performances include Grace Franki’s worryingly convincing portrayal of a doting mother, Harriet Jane’s dismissal of a group of homophobic gangsters, and Harry Winsome and Tim Doran’s yuuugely successful impressions of Donald Trump and Vladmir Putin.
As is the case with any student production, opening night had a few rough edges: there was a flubbed line, awkward pause or delayed entrance here and there, and a ceramic mug became just another casualty of the revolution. But some wittily improvised lines, and the confidence which the performers evidently had in both themselves and each other meant that these easily forgiven.
The show ended on a high, with Lizzy Blower leading an impressive rendition of “I Will Survive” as the cast, transformed into armed militants, stormed the stage and swiftly disposed of their enemies. All in all, Liberté, Egalité, Firing Squad is an enormous success, and a fantastic way to cap off the Identity Revue season. If you haven’t already bought your tickets, make sure you do: not just for the hostages’ sake, but also for your own.