The cozy interior of the Seymour Centre’s Reginald Theatre, combined with a classroom set complete with whiteboard and marker, could easily bring back memories of the dreary high school plays which now exist only to add embarrassment to a friend’s Facebook feed.
But this year’s Education and Social Work Revue, A Schoolbus Named Desire, more than avoids this fate: directors Ally Canas, Cameron Cain and Mollie Galvin have brought together a small but talented and diverse cast to provide a night of frivolity, fun and plenty of laughs.
A Schoolbus Named Desire would certainly score a high ‘Band 6’ for conventions of the revue genre: loveably-lame puns are aplenty, with even Descartes pinged by Dad jokes (it’s much funnier than it sounds); clever wordplays sneak their way into sketches, as a schoolteacher bellows ‘STELLA’ to his inattentive pupil; and there are the occasionally confusing moments of any university production, with some slow transitions leaving the audience a little clueless as to whether the ringing of a school bell signals an Act’s end or a new sketch’s beginning.
But the performance goes above and beyond your standard revue, with several moments of genuinely hilarious and original humour; particular highlights included Anna Rowe taking advantage of (and immediately betraying) some eager crowd involvement to play ‘Simon Says’ and Marcus Wong as a soap opera-ready teacher stoking staffroom drama.
The show really comes together in some spectacular musical numbers. Throughout the show, Flick Addison’s choreography and a capable band, led by Marcy Gomez, make these pieces a particular joy, and Emma Webb shines in a study-drug themed edition of ‘Thrift Shop’. It’s these one-off sketches, rather than the running storyline of Ms Dubois’ travails at a new school, that are best received by the audience, and less time being spent pursuing the tenuous extended plot might have opened up room for more like them.
The show’s full-cast musical finale, a loving stab at the boredom of the high school classroom, brings the show to a fitting conclusion. The cast of A Schoolbus Named Desire are hilariously wacky, and I’m not sure I’d let my children anywhere near them, but they can certainly be trusted to put on a delightful and memorable revue.