Reviews //

Much ado about ‘Nothing’, literally: SUDS Presents Nothing & To Be or Not to Be, You Decide

Alana Cherry ponders when the Sydney University Dramatic Society will correctly rename themselves as the Sydney University Comedic Society.

Alana Cherry ponders when the Sydney University Dramatic Society will correctly rename themselves as the Sydney University Comedic Society.

The SUDS Summer Season has kicked off to a great start and this double bill of eccentric and vibrant comedy is no exception.

It’s 6:05pm as I take my seat in the cellar. I have spent the last 15 minutes rereading mysterious event descriptions in an attempt to discern exactly what I have signed up to see tonight. My expectations: a meta-exploration of the inside of an empty fishbowl followed by improvised comedy to the sounds of Shakespeare turning in his grave. The end result: exactly that and so, so much more.

In a nutshell, Nothing, devised and performed by Shevvi Barrett-Brown, Ezra Miller and Rory Nolan, is short comedy stemming from a sketch from the 2015 Queer Revue: Straight to Hell. It explores the absurdity and sheer inanity of many socially constructed relationships and conventions—notably gender—through three quirky friends, Susan, Jack and Michael. The story follows these friends as they play a game that involves ‘acting out’ made up scenarios ranging from family miscommunications to social exclusion and queer representations.    

The night couldn’t have opened more strongly than with Nothing’s first sketch, a satire of the stereotypical friend’s ‘catch-up’, cleverly portraying the ridiculous banality of a conversation in which no one is actually communicating. This satirical subversion of social convention cleverly continued throughout the entire show and was well received with a constant stream of audience laughter. The minimalist and absurdist approach to set and script brilliantly contributed to the hilarious yet surreal nature of the show. My only criticism? The title. This was most certainly a comedy of substance that not only provided food for thought, but also highlighted once again the fantastic comedic talent in SUDS.

After a short break we were all rushed back into the Cellar for the beginning of the (questionably) interactive Hamlet comedic extravaganza. For any of you out there who may have been of the persuasion that Hamlet is a Shakespearean tragedy, do not fear. Davis Murphy and Jacinta Gregory will set you straight with their impressive line-up of 20 stand-up and improv comedians spread over the four show nights.

On Thursday night, I had the pleasure of a few short and sweet stand-up sets from SBS comedian James Colley, Nothing creator Shevvi Barrett-Brown and future robot sexologist Victoria Zerbst. There was also a fantastic and beautifully sung musical number about pseudo-romance by Gregory and a mish-mash of improv from “Davis & Friends”. Although some parts we’re a tad higgly-piggly and the closest reference to Shakespeare was the elegant Elizabethan costuming donned by Murphy and Gregory, the show was an absolute blast and full of laughs that had me wondering what tomorrow night’s show will bring, and ultimately questioning my relationship with laundry detergent. To Vanish or to Omo? That is the question.

Therefore, in the spirit of Shakespeare himself, I must end this review with a moral: comedy is best served by Davis Murphy Hamlet, blended in a fishbowl to the sounds of Shevvi screaming “my children”. And see these two shows, they’re pretty great.