Reviews //

Made to please: The 2016 Commerce Revue

Imogen Harper reviews The Rise and Fall of Bliss Industries.

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Photo by Zaina Ahmed

This year’s commerce revue, The Rise and Fall of Bliss Industries (no pun intended – as we’re frequently reminded), was filled with talent, dedication and, very often, laughter. Upon entering the theatre, characters from Bliss Industry were on hand to meet and greet, satirising an insecure, made to please consumer culture, while also demonstrating the Revue’s self-conscious attempt to distinguish itself from other revues in the season. It also revealed what continued to be a strength of the show; the coziness of the small theatre allowed laughter to spark laughter and the audience could enjoy watching the cast truly enjoy themselves.

The cast and crew were consistently talented, with brilliance shining through in the show’s acting, writing and music. Crowd-pleasers included a tormented, verbose baby pondering the state of the world on a family trip to the park, and the Israel/Palestine conflict as played out on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Many of Tom Waddell’s sketches stood out as he played everyone from an easily manipulated Harry Potter to Steve Jobs’s angsty son, Hans Jobs. Sasha Meaney also earns a special mention as the CEO of Bliss Industries, opening and closing both acts and using her charisma to warm the audience up and bring them into the show. Throughout the revue the cast embraced mistakes and laughs along with the audience, while also bringing to life many of the more absurd dance scenes with their clear enjoyment of every moment.

The sketches took a while to warm up initially, and the sense of an over-arching plot around the eponymous Bliss Industries flowed in and out – at times with humour, and at times with confusion. Sketches covered everything from harmless fart jokes to insidious moments in Wife Swap-meets-Henry VIII (it’s not too different to what the name would suggest). The execution of scene changes varied throughout the night, but the use of stage, lighting and music brought the production together.

The finale was certainly a highpoint, demonstrating the show’s singing, dancing and staging at its best. This 2016 commerce revue, directed by Jack Savage and Georgia Britt, seemed to fulfil its goal of a fun, though sometimes absurd, concoction of scenes and sketches, and the cast’s attitude and sense of enjoyment brought easy laughs throughout the night.

Read another review of this show here.