Opening during a blind date between an elderly schoolteacher and a dinosaur. So began the ridiculous and comical Education and Social Work Revue, The Land Before Timetables – a mildly clever but not particularly enticing title, fittingly reflective of the gist of the revue. After introducing the lonely ‘Tindersaurus’ and seeing the cast and crew matched up by Tinder on screen, there were a kaleidoscopic array of skits, rife with school jokes, actors in dinosaur onesies and references to the end of the world.
Unfortunately what eventuated was a mixed bag of odd skits – many involving music and shorter jokes, on both stage and screen, were clever and well considered, while many of the dialogue-heavy pieces fell flat. On many occasions unnecessary dialogue followed punch lines, leaving the comedy peaking awkwardly mid-sketch. While it was refreshing that The Land Before Timetables didn’t focus on often-offensive political satire like many other revues, its sketches, like the title suggests, were from a time that didn’t seem relevant. Despite a few chuckles, the majority of the sketches were random and offered no thoughtful humour or satire beyond broad comedy.
But when there were moments of brilliance, they were truly funny and original; scientists breaking out into ‘Turn Down The Watt’, Shakespeare meeting Baz Lurhamnn, the cast singing ‘Mark Even’ (parodying The Script’s ‘Break Even’) in response to teachers marking work unfairly, a public speaker imagining students in lecture halls naked and an a flawless impression a high school teacher.
The revue was certainly fun and creative, but did not aim to push any boundaries and was a mellow party-mix packet of safe and outdated jokes. In fact the show featured tracks from the land before iPods – Seal, Celine Dion, The Police – leaving the audience with a heavy hint about the writers’ ages. The musical performances were well written and well performed, but hard to follow without subtitles and loud backing tracks.
With a lack of male talent in the cast, the Revue was certainly a time to shine for women performances, and I applaud the work of all for taking it in their stride and making the most of the talented females in the cast. Overall the Revue was innocent work that seemed to lack creative input in the writer’s room; far too many jokes were predictable or following repetitive formulae. However despite what the performers had to work with, the Revue was a true showcase of the talent of its cast.