It turns out that if you pack 40 type-A students into a room with glue guns and glitter for 22 hours every week, they hand in one hell of a group assignment. And they sure understood that assignment; to be loud, facetious, and fucking hilarious.
Timing is everything. And the moment could not have been better, leading up to mid-semester break, for some performance-enhancing comic relief to be injected into the dreary lives of students as the Seymour Centre opened its doors to Law Revue once again, returning after three years of consecutive cancellations. The next generation of budding satirists certainly had their work cut out for them; a war in Europe, a pandemic, a stubbornly archaic law school being forced to shift its teaching online… y’know, all entertaining stuff.
Yet even given this, the show left us with the feeling that law students might not always be the criminally un-fun and needlessly esoteric bunch they come across as. In a revue that is notorious for its incisive political and legal satire, the show managed to intelligently find the folly in events familiar to law and non-law alike, impressively featuring only a single Trump impersonation — and an actually funny one at that — in revue freshman Joseph Singer.
PULP Jurisdiction pulls frequently from its bench of clear vocal talent. And in that sense, it was like many law revues that have come before it. That will just always be a natural consequence of handing insecure overachievers a mic and giving them another sphere to dominate over their peers. What made this year’s production a particular stand out were the singing performances, guided by endlessly talented Singing Director Kiran Gupta (seriously, the boy can sing!), whose trade-war-with-China inspired acapella rendition of ‘Hopelessly Devoted to You’ with Director Genevieve Couvret was an early highlight of the night.
Catching an overwhelming affection for the formidable cast becomes hopelessly unavoidable when we are introduced to murderous Queen Elizabeth II (played by comic genius Coco Frolich) in Ariana Grande parody ‘One Less Sovereign Without You’. Later, our favourite 90s heartthrobs became overly litigious defamation bad boys Ben Roberts-Smith, Peter Dutton, John Barilaro, Johnny Depp, and Christian Porter (brought to life by Lauren Lancaster, Beau Glass, Kiran Gupta, Ariana Haghighi, and Anna Simpson). These catchy and character-centred numbers really make you feel like you’re watching a revue that only this cast could pull off. Also, who knew the roar and rumblings of fascism within the world’s cold-war superpowers could be put to ‘Material Girl’ and ‘Cococabana’?
You’d be hard-pressed to find any of the rough edges one ordinarily sees on an opening night. The exceptionally experienced revue executive – all of them women – put together a production of laughter without lull; the absence of filler sketches made it difficult to draw a snortless-breath. Audience’s attention was pulled from the side-splitting passive aggression anger management session (starring Martha Barlow, Julia Saab, and Prudence Wilkens-Wheat) to the coronation of short king and His almost-Royal Highness Beau Glass.
Yes, there was a reliable collection of law-laden gags; a Michael Jackson-inspired zombie-hit ‘Bill Her’ parodied lawyers’ penchant for overcharging clients (led by Producer Dani Stephenson). Especially memorable was a sketch in which Dora the Explorer (also played by Stephenson) led the audience in pro-death-penalty chants as Swiper stood trial for larceny.
But what made this year’s revue particularly memorable was how it strayed from simply copying an old formula, drawing on fresh blood — the majority of the cast being first-timers — to deliver something new. This was most brilliantly evident in sketches like ‘Montage It’ (starring Prudence Wilkins-Wheat and Ella McCrindle) and characters like covid, cocaine, and coercive control Barbies (played by Eliza Crossley, Dani Stephensen, and Elizabeth Nutting respectively).
The band at law revue has always been outstanding, and they continued this year to be an under-utilised part of the show. I just want to meet them, I just want to be them. Their instrumental versions of all the great music we’ve missed out on hearing at the clubs during the pandemic has me hoping I may run into them some time, anywhere, after the show. Call me?
For those sitting on the edge of a fortnight of take-homes and take-out, it might be time to ditch the desk, snag some tickets and see how they lay down the law in Pulp Jurisdiction.
Photography by Royce Chiu.