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Review: Arts Revue 2022 ‘Wipeout’

Ethan Floyd enjoys a night out at Seymour, with this year’s cast delivering a fun and campy performance which revisits the roots of student sketch comedy.

After a two-year hiatus due to COVID-related shenanigans, Arts Revue returns to the Seymour Centre’s Reginald Theatre with a campy and eclectic show highlighting everything we know and love about student sketch comedy.

This year has already seen some fantastic revues which maintained a clear theme throughout. POC Revue’s futuristic tone was set early in the show and carried throughout with cleverly-written sketches. It seemed POC Revue walked so that Arts Revue could run, channelling all of this, but in a subversive way – weaving not one, but a number of engaging themes and storylines throughout the show in a way which left the audience giggling long after the curtains closed.

Directors Ochre Pastro and Will Torney, alongside producer Daisy Semmler, craft a show that invokes the Argentinian TV show from which it borrows its namesake. Sam Hill-Wade’s nefarious version of former Wipeout host Richard Hammond had the audience cackling with his hijinks throughout the show and, with appearances during and between other sketches, tied the show’s main theme together cohesively.

An underrated sketch was ‘The Bachelor does Wipeout’, which sees Patrick McKenzie as the Bachelor and a well-dressed Luke Mešterović as Osher Günsberg, attempting to host a rose ceremony while contestants are ‘wiped out’ by a spinning obstacle.

Clearly, some incredible work has been done in the pitch workshops which have taken up most Tuesdays and Thursdays over the past several months, with a number of original sketches becoming highlights of this year’s show.

Annabelle Shannon shone in ‘Manual Car Driver’, a musical sketch to the tune of Grease’s ‘Beauty School Dropout’, along with Hill-Wade. Delivering some great vocals, it’s surprising that the two of them – particularly Shannon – weren’t considered for more singing roles. That being said, the other cast members who are given the microphone do a fantastic job as well.

Nic Doring and Pat Fuccilli show off their impeccable comedic timing in “Deadshit Lifeguard”, showing us a day in the life of the world’s dumbest surf life saver. The two give subtle yet hilarious performances, and go on to steal the show in every one of their other sketches.

Speaking of show-stealing comedic duos, self-confessed Greek heartthrob Mešterović and Irish-accent aficionado Tom Hetherington-Welch seem in their element in ‘Scottish PE Teacher’, with Mešterović assuming the role of toxic masculinity personified and Hetherington-Welch as an insightful child therapist. 

Also showing off their comedic chops were McKenzie and Claire Hwang, delivering a series of ‘Pocket Watch’ sketches which see two people fall in love over a mutual love of timepiece accessories and time-themed pickup lines. These telenovela-style sketches were a highlight of the show, and the pair’s corny yet hilarious dialogue evokes the traditions of student sketch comedy. Sharing the stage across several appearances, McKenzie and Hwang’s storyline is quintessential ‘arts revue’ – charismatic actors, an engaging theme, and some goofy dialogue!

Some other notable mentions are Fuccilli and Eloise Aiken’s Y2K-inspired love ballad ‘I Fell in Love With a Finance Bro’, light-hearted-children’s-story-turned-horrific-medial-drama ‘Spot’s Trip to the Vet’, and a heartwarming impression sketch featuring a homeless Kevin McCloud (of BBC’s Grand Designs) titled ‘Kevin McCloud Needs a Place to Stay’.

These all go to show the miracles taking place in the writers’ room this year, producing a show which is full of fast laughs, slow-burners and some hilariously over-the-top physical comedy.

Arts Revue’s sound and lighting crew experienced some technical difficulties on Wednesday, at one point playing a musical track for a touch too long, and at another point missing some lighting cues which made for interesting theatre. Fortunately, quick thinking and resilience from the tech crew and the show’s stage managers Danny Yazdani and Asqa Suryana kept the show on the road and the audience engaged.

Adele Beaumont alleviated any confusion in the audience, making several quippy fourth-wall breaks throughout the show. Given student sketch comedy’s tradition of finding humour in awkwardness, this played not only as funny but also hugely endearing. Demonstrating an environment of patience and teamwork between the dedicated cast and crew of this year’s show, moments like this managed to warm my cold reviewer’s heart.

All in all, while suffering from (but at all times overcoming) the typical pitfalls of opening night, Arts Revue 2022 Wipeout is a mixed bag of cleverly-written sketches with a handful of outstanding moments, delivered by a truly talented cast. A must-see at Seymour this week.

Arts Revue 2022 Wipeout plays at the Seymour Centre’s Reginald Theatre until Saturday 27 August. Tickets are available from the Seymour Centre’s website or at the box office.