The first show of the faculty revue season can either set the scene of the shows to come, or jerk the wheel violently from the start. Commerce Revue’s In The Red did the latter. Directors Jess Zlotnick and Tom Waddell have compiled a night of comedy that will first make you laugh and then make you question how sane you are.
Walking into the Everest Theatre at the Seymour Centre, you are greeted by a cacophony of yelling from the cast members talking business and trade. The show then kicked off with a fierce all-cast musical number that was simple yet beautifully choreographed, making great use of the length of the stage.
One aspect I truly loved about In The Red is that it knew exactly what it wanted to be and made it apparent from the very first sketch. The ever-funny Harriet Lugsdin strutted out in a bondage outfit, playfully whipping herself, only to have a foot long Subway sandwich shoved up her ass.
From then on was a ride into the darkest recesses of humour. Throughout the show, there was a sense of guilty pleasure; you knew what you were seeing was dark, but you couldn’t help but laugh. Hamster/owner coitus, Game of Thrones-style walks of shame, Silence of the Lambs Bubble O’ Bills — very little was kept off the table. The “Find Your Fetish” game show sketch made the audience sink down into their seats, praying they wouldn’t be asked on stage.
The second half of the show was stronger than the first, helped primarily by the two AV sketches masterfully directed by Nick Harriott. Daniella Pilla’s role as a trashy pageant mum in a new Netflix show made me simultaneously laugh, cringe and beg for more. Revue first-timer William Hendricks also delighted the audience with his physical comedy acts of snorting cake off the floor and Alex Gillezeau’s Peter Pettigrew rap was a personal favourite of mine.
Special mention also needs to go to the wonderful band, who performed Aussie classics like ‘Back in Black’ (painfully sung by Dominic Causley Todd) and ‘Are You Gonna Be My Girl?’, as well as a slide whistle rendition of ‘Shooting Stars’ to a full on band strike and walk off.
There were sketches that did not land, and there was a severe lack of AV sketches to break up the show. However, this did not stop the cast from performing with high energy, and I hope to see many of the new faces in the revue scene in the future. While the humour was predominantly dark, it was never malicious, and both Jess and Tom should be proud of this strange little demon baby of a show. Ultimately, In The Red was a show that delighted, disturbed and aroused me, sometimes all at once.