Walking into the Reginald Theatre for this year’s Womn’s Revue, I find that it’s become a time machine of sorts. The Ghostbusters theme song fills a set of balloons and streamers worthy of the best high school formal decoration committees, and I really do feel like I’m a high school student from the 80s, nervously entering the gym-turned-prom-venue for a night of embarrassing teenage choices.
Unlike formals and prom nights, however, the Womn’s Revue is neither underwhelming nor disappointing. Memories R Always promises a night of nostalgia and quality comedy, and boy, does it deliver.
Directors Julia Gregoratto & Maddie Houlbrook-Walk pull off what is easily one of the funniest nights of student comedy around — it is no wonder Womn’s Revue has developed a reputation for being a highlight of the revue season. The show embraces a theme that, in less-skilled directorial hands, could be tacky and derivative. Instead, they’ve given us something amazing, enough to suppress even the worst prom memories.
The show hits the ground running with a buzzing opening number – “are you excited?” the cast screams enthusiastically at the audience. The room is filled with energy; the answer has to be yes. This kinetic energy never leaves the stage, whether the cast is singing along to another 80s classic, or cheering on an 8-year-old at a dance recital, or executing some of Kasia Vickers’ killer choreography.
It’s absolutely a credit to the talent of the cast that they can keep this up for two hours — although it certainly isn’t their only strength. The eighteen womn that form the ensemble cannot be faulted as they transition seamlessly from murderous wives to horny mermaids to characters ever more outrageous than the last without missing a beat. The audience doesn’t get a chance to bored between sketches: they’re too busy recovering from the most recent punchline.
It speaks volumes that after only two short bits in a wig and wild sweater, Lauren Gale can become a character so memorable that her third appearance on stage has the audience laughing in anticipation before she says a word. Hannah Pembroke, too, will have you in stitches as That Punter Who Got Tickets To Splendour, Eloise Callaghan will teach you more than you ever wanted to know about the Slow Loris (a furry, cute, and deadly pygmy-cum-possum type of animal), and Maddo Lofthouse will be all-too-familiar as that 47-year-old in your sociology tute.
The show doesn’t waste the talent of a single cast member (in fact, they find the perfect excuse to have 16 backup dancers in one particular number), nor does it forget to showcase contributions of the rest of the team. Musical director Josie Gibson and the incredible band crank out those 80s hits with a gift for comedic timing. Creative Director Sarah Graham should also be congratulated for the gorgeous 80s prom theme — even during the sketches, the wacky hairdos and colourful costumes never leave the stage, and never stop contributing to the wacko schmacko of the entire show.
Energetic, original, and hilarious, Memories R Always really is a night you won’t forget. Just like high school partners and teen movies, revue seasons come and go, but Memories R Always.