It’s fair to say that last night at the Seymour Centre trumped our regular milo (and whisky) night-in. We shared laughs and enjoyed the banter but were overall more impressed by the talent onstage than the sketches themselves in this year’s Sydney Uni Revue. The show, which re-works the cream of the crop from 2016’s Identity and Faculty revue seasons, showcased a plethora of talent but felt unrealised. Despite being propelled by the cast’s energy and offering fresh takes on last year’s sketches, the quality was inconsistent and occasionally relied on generic comedic clichés.
Like a solid Saturday night, the pre-gaming were awkward, the end was messy, but boy was the middle tight. The strength of the show lay in its performances with most bite, such as one delivered by Alex Gillezeau as a raving Priest and in a spicy sidewalk salsa between Lauren Gale and Shannon Sweeney. However, both the opening number — a musical ode to the alt-right — and the closing song in celebration of robot sex, missed the mark. Both felt out of place and disjointed from the production’s overall rhythm. The tone of ‘millennial angst’ set by the promotional material did little to unite the sketches in the way last year’s revue used the theme of ‘primary school’ to underscore the show. The discordant nature of the opening and closing numbers, however, is in no way due to MVP Sasha Meaney who spearheads both numbers and many-a-sketch with vigour and captivating stage presence.
At particular points, each member of the cast was able to grip the audience through charisma and character work. The cast’s camaraderie translated well into their performance and revitalised well-known sketches from last year’s revue seasons. A huge shoutout is deserved to Darby Judd for elevating every sketch he featured in and regenerating them for a fresh audience. Standouts include his performance as a shady airport loiterer with a fetish for curry, a heartbroken hunk lamenting his mid-life crisis to the tune of Mambo No. 5 and, to the delight of the audience, resuming his role as a lycra-clad ‘bad kitty’ from Arts Revue — which frankly, left us shook.
Character work was the lifeboat for sketches that otherwise could have sunk. The unbridled commitment of Georgia Britt to every character she played was entrancing. Equipped with perfected comedic timing and dedication to every scene, Britt was stellar as a senior citizen with carnivorous tendencies and as a straight-laced, vagina clad songstress who bestows ‘gems’ of wisdom. Unfortunately, the pace of the production lagged in ensemble sketches like the boardroom scene where a discussion about affirmative action descended into dick pics. Witty asides were overshadowed by cheap tricks and profanity was overused as a comedic device across the production.
Despite its inconsistent pace and lack of a common thematic thread, its large-scale production value upheld the performance when it faulted. The dancers were phenomenal, yet underused. The ever-present DJ punctuated the performance with tech renditions of sombre tunes. The production team took advantage of their generous budget and excelled — the lighting palette was divine and smooth transitions were marked with strobe lights and atmospheric smoke.
Considering Sydney Uni Revue’s unique opportunities, and their extensive budget compared to other USU-funded productions, their team can afford to take more risks. Though enjoyable, there was neither a clear message nor clear theme, no marked departures from last year’s material and the show lacked the spontaneity that often inhabits more intimate revues. We were wowed by the talent but left unsatisfied — the next Sydney Uni Revue should trust its cast to carry a more original and innovative production.