Science Revue: Cosmic Relief delivered three hours of non-stop entertainment, filled with music, dance, a scantily clad greek salad, a parody of The Lizzie McGuire Movie’s “Hey Now”, Beyoncé’s “Survivor” and “Happy” by Pharell. It was clear that the performers had an incredible chemistry on stage, their camaraderie making every joke land with precision. Directors Jean-Luc Barbara and Ro Roberts, alongside solo producer Andrei Agnew, must be congratulated for wrangling a cast of such epic proportions into shape for an incredible show that left audiences star struck.
The show’s pacing was a masterclass in comedic timing. The sketches ebbed and flowed seamlessly, each one building on the momentum of the previous, like a well-orchestrated symphony of laughter. The ensemble cast showcased their versatility, effortlessly switching between characters and scenarios that ranged from absurd to relatable. Whether it was a satirical take on student life, a hilarious parody of pop culture icons, or a witty exploration of the cosmos itself, the performers nailed every punchline and brought the audience along for a hysterical ride.
One of the show’s best qualities was its ability to capture authentic connection between the Gen-Z characters. A scene between two friends in which a young woman is attempting to make certain their interaction passes the famous Bechdel test (a measure of representation in films in which two female characters must discuss something other than a man) was particularly endearing. At the end, the friend comes out as non-binary, leading to a wholesome hug before they begin wondering whether this disqualifies them from the Bechdel test.
The set design and production values also played a significant role in creating an immersive experience. Cleverly designed backdrops and props transported the audience from one hilarious scenario to another, while lighting and sound cues punctuated punchlines and added an extra layer of comedic flair. The production team’s attention to detail was evident in every aspect, and it elevated the show from a mere performance to a complete comedic universe.
The small but mighty Dance Troupe, lead by C Ber and Bo Smith, provided many absurd laughs throughout the night. In a meta moment, the dance troupe provided the foreground of ballet while stage hands brought on increasingly absurd set pieces, moving them from one wing to the other. Ren Aggio, a crew member, then shoos the troupe off the stage, abruptly ending the otherwise elegant performance.
Many of the sketches were about navigating young adulthood and trying to find one’s place in the world with the added comedic element of a futuristic setting aided by a robot comic. One skit involved a musical in which three individuals sang about how they didn’t know if they were cows or girls and if they belonged on the traditional farm. The scene had the audience in uproarious laughter for its absurdist quality and earned a round of applause for the strong vocals at the end. Credit must be given to Wesley McGrath and Kris Sergei, the two Singing Troupe directors, and Eleanor Fair, assistant Singing Director, who provided strong vocals in many of the sketches.
Video sketches were another highlight of the show. One standout was a scene at a gynecologists office, in which expectant mother (Aria Pestonji) and an already-dead-beat father (Tessa Dunkin) got their first glimpse of their foetus. Horror music played, and a wetsuit-clad Georgie MacDonald swam around in a cloudy pool. Estella Kennedy, AV Director and cast member, must be congratulated for bringing absurdity to a show full of otherwise serious STEM students.
The final scene of Act 1 entitled “Sharehouse” was the culmination of the collective, messy young adult experience of moving out of your parents house to live with university students similar to you who are also feeling slightly lost. This scene was heartwarming to watch as every cast member from the show was involved in it. The song included relatable quips of finding hair on the bathroom floor, noticing plates building up in the kitchen sink, and going home to your parents’ place to do laundry every fortnight.
Special mention must be made of the band, who performed show-stopping numbers for the singers to play along to, and started the show strongly with a cover of the opening track from Neon Genesis Evangelion, The Cruel Angel’s Thesis. Lead by Justine Kim, Margot Roberts and Evalyn Sharpham, they ensured the audience were never bored by playing Super Mario Galaxy tracks between sketches. Many a heckler could be heard shouting “Yeah the band!”, particularly during a sketch in which they played YMCA, but switched from music to mime for the chorus.
All in all, the show’s ability to capture the essence of comedy in its purest form left attendees with hearts full of joy. This 2.5-hour journey through the cosmos of laughter was a reminder that in a world that often takes itself too seriously, there’s immense value in coming together to share in the simple, universal pleasure of laughter.
Since 2007, The University of Sydney’s Science Revue Society has been donating all profits from their shows toward Cystic Fibrosis Community Care NSW.