The 2016 Arts Revue Games received the single loudest groan of disappointment I have heard in any revue. That bitter moan rolled across the audience at precisely the moment they realised the extravaganza was over. This show burst through the boundaries of absurdity and still managed to create three-dimensional characters the audience actually cared about.
Right off the bat, the opening song was self-aware to a tee, educating us on the ins and outs of the copyright law that had delivered the show its somewhat ridiculed name. The musical performances throughout the show, including those by Justine Landis-Hanley and Ondine Manfrin, were particularly top notch.
Overall, the sketches were beautifully constructed. The directors gracefully pole-vaulted over the trap of creating pieces that entirely rely on their punchline. Instead, we were greeted with an eclectic collection of pieces with more side-splitting twists and heart wrenching turns than a bobsled course.
Nostalgia was a strong driving force with Bop-its, class clowns and Dolly magazine all making appearances. Perhaps there was a slight over-reliance on school-age characters but as long as Education Revue doesn’t mind losing out on some amazing material, I’m not complaining.
Some particularly unforgettable performances included Davis Murphy’s dad-I-would-want-as-father-of-my-children, Darby Judd’s exquisitely sultry neighbourhood pussycat and Maddie Houlbrook-Walk as a completely perfect Vicar of Dibley. Meanwhile, every sketch that Tom Cardy touched turned to gold whether he was a robber, DJ, chess-player or evil mastermind.
Those who think revue comedy is just a bucket of fun would have been blown away when Gemma Black and Jenna Owen delivered a hard-hitting fuzzy feeling directly to their heart.
The band was more than just filler, breaking new ground with the vuvuzela, playing Chopsticks with chopsticks and a Cadbury Gorilla tribute to Harambe. There was potentially scope to use the band more, particularly during transitions.
The AV sketches were hurt a little by limited production value, but still performed well. Cop show Blue Heelys (starring Jon Love and Eliza Ronan) was a strong crowd favourite.
If you talk to someone who saw the show, just pretend you went along and say, “Holy shit, I was literally in tears during the DJ sketch” or “But wait, it’s filled with another bucket of chicken nuggets.” They’ll know what you mean.
Their finale pumped out the line “We’re happy with second best”, but the other faculty revues will be hard-pressed to put them there.
Read another review of this show here.