For two hours, the team of PoC Revue V transports me into the weird and wily mind of an advertising tycoon. The show breaks down the ways in which capitalism has embedded itself in the commercial exploitation of people of colour whilst getting a packed-out audience to sing along to iconic advertising jingles — I’m sold.
PoC Revue 2019: The Hard Sell has seen Tazrian Khan and Emilie Hong Ning step into directorial roles this year, and what a show they’ve put together. Poc Revue V is insistent on introspection — it asks us to consider our role in the cultural prejudices we hold, even as people of colour ourselves.
From the outset, with an immaculately written opening number making light of PoC experiences of tokenism, PoC Revue V positions itself as a production that is happy to take the kid gloves off and hold a mirror up to white audiences without needing to fall back on the heavy-handedness of years gone past.
Revue veteran Millie Roberts’ experience and versatility is showcased early on, with a rap solo in the opening number inducing an incisive and sobering allegory on the phenomenon of ‘othering’ in white social contexts.
She teams up with Lena Wang who not only demonstrates her vocal ability early on, but consistently owns her often absurd characters — whether it be a measles-ridden Macquarie University student, or an obsessively superstitious partner.
This is a production that flourishes because of its attention to detail and its confidence in itself — in addressing critiques of last year’s congested transition times between scenes, this year’s PoC Revue V allows the audience to bop along to iconic advertising jingles that often draws impromptu choir performances from the bleachers, whilst giving the cast and crew time to set up and change costumes.
Rhian Morduant excels throughout and certainly earns the enthusiastic reception he receives in every skit he leads, whether it be as an exasperated Dev Patel not-lookalike, an unlucky Prince Charming or a bewildered yoga student. By the intermission, he has the audience wrapped around his tiger-taming finger, clamouring to see him return to the stage.
For all of its slick production and attention to detail, PoC Revue V is not without its flaws. Pre-intermission material certainly resonates strongly, and in an attempt to capitalise on that, jokes are recycled without the set-up of a true running gag.
This said, PoC Revue V certainly can’t be faulted for the quality of its cast, a talented ensemble that never lets the opening night audience take a break from the comedy. Producers Geneve Bullo and Simone Zhao should be fully credited for bringing together a cast with such clear chemistry. Esther Shim, Shani Patel and Adam Torres are particular highlights for me — Patel and Shim for their versatility, and Torres for his control of comedic tension. His portrayal of a perpetually disappointed Rapunzel induces fervent applause, and his massage therapist skit receives raucous laughter to conclude the show.
PoC Revue V is on from 11 to 13 April at the Seymour Centre, but at the time of writing has already fully sold out it’s entire season — clearly a testament to the PoC Revue Society’s hard work both on and off the stage over the last few months. I give it my highest recommendation, and I look forward to seeing this group go onwards and upwards in 2020.
They’ve poured you a moon juice. They’ve had Prince Charming’s horses shampooed. They’ve saved you a spot in a ‘woke’ yoga class. They’ve turned off the problematic Alexas. If you haven’t gotten a ticket, where the bloody hell are you?