Upon entering the Reginald Theatre for this year’s Arts Revue, I find myself engulfed in a wave of nostalgia. Remnants of a 90s childhood, complete with an old-school television, long-abandoned toys adorning the stage, and classic bangers of a bygone era welcome us to an evening of throwbacks and raucous laughter.
Much like MTV’s cherished status among millennials, ARTV: Arts Revue Television more than lives up to its reputation as one of the most comically gifted revues of the season.
Directors Johnathan Lo and Ondine Manfrin have crafted a show that is equal parts innovative and true to tradition. Offering a mix of contemporary pop-culture tropes — such as Lucy Burke’s click-bait appropriation of the ‘Shame Nun’ — and hilarious takes on classic television hits (‘MTV Takes Over My House’ gone rogue) the show’s greatest strength lies in the consistency of the MTV theme which permeates every sketch.
The show gleams with a childlike enthusiasm that is established from the opening number, which sees the cast jumping and jiving in their fluorescent early-00s gear. This homage to the not-so-distant past never leaves the stage, as Concetta Caristo embodies an uncannily accurate representation of The Nanny — complete with manic nasal laughter and leopard print — as she appeases the indignant duo of Jane and Michael from Mary Poppins.
The incredible ability of the cast to produce tear-inducing laughter as they embrace and pervert pop-culture characters is undoubtedly the key to the charisma and joy that the shows brings. However, at times the brilliance of these centre-stage personalities edges other cast members into the shadows and creates a discrepancy in representation of the talent of the entire group.
Despite this minor flaw, and a few sketches that could do with a tighter edit, Arts Revue is ultimately a triumph in its capacity to deliver high quality humour. With musical numbers that parodied everything from school Eisteddfods to horny toads, the show is brimming with a patent musicality and electric chemistry which engages its audience and will leave you giggling and aghast in equal measure. As they say in the show business, go see it or ‘get slimed!’