From the moment you walk into the Seymour Centre, you can feel the buzz and excitement. The University of Sydney Womn’s Revue is undoubtedly one of this University’s most popular revues, consistently selling out and landing encore shows at the Sydney Comedy Festival.
I walked into the theatre excited, but also ready to be somewhat critical. As a Womn’s Revue veteran, I know all too well both the strengths and weaknesses of being in the annual theatre show. But from the moment it started, I was blown away.
This year the Reginald Theatre was completely transformed to match the Under the Snowglobe theme. The set design was picturesque, and set the tone for the opening number: a crisply choreographed parody of an ABBA hit. Choreographer and PoC revue veteran Ping-Hui Ho was responsible for the energetic and engaging dancing that accompanied the many catchy and engaging musical numbers that Womn’s Revue is known for.
The bold acting style of the 2019 Womn’s Revue directors, Sophia Morrison and Ruby Blinkhorn, is positively striking. The performers’ writing and acting alike had a consistent element of comical clowning; this shone through in several skits, but was particularly resonant through the engaging and recurring character Emily, played by SUDS star Lillian Smith. Six-year-old Emily was both adorable and hilarious, and had everyone screaming with laughter at many different points of the evening.
Inside the Snowglobe poignantly captured the sentiments of a children’s wonderland. During the night, the audience was captivated by many young and cute characters like Dylan, played by Angie Brooke. Dylan, alongside his dad, played by Kate Wilkins, had the audience ooh-ing and ahh-ing and in the end, screaming from laughter. The chemistry of the pair is undeniable – both Angie and Kate were no doubt two of the standout performers of the evening.
In typical USyd theatre fashion, another highlight of the evening was the classic use of mise-en-abyme. The parodies of independent theatre and theatrical exercises were relatable and caused an uproar, specifically a sketch that mocked the excessive usage of herbal cigarettes. The scene was downright ridiculous and the actors individually stayed in character despite the audience at some points shrieking at the absurdity.
The entire production was well rounded with different types of sketches, however, a prominent feature of Womn’s Revue 2019 was the excellent musical numbers. From parodies of High School Musical like “Don’t mess with your horoscope, stick to the star you know”, to parodies of Britney Spears’ “I can’t get you out of my web”, every musical number had me singing in my chair and humming the tunes on my way home. Katherine Porritt-Fraser, singing in a few numbers, had us hooked every time.
It goes without saying that though Womn’s Revue 2019 was downright hilarious, there were moments where it did fall flat. A scene with strong racial implications which included a conservative Genie played by a white actor who spoke with a questionable accent left some of the audience, including myself, a little confused. Throughout the whole night, it was evident that there was a strong attention to detail and well-intended socio-political commentary, but this skit definitely made the production shine a little less.
Despite this, the night ended on a high note, and there were so many moments I wish I could watch again. A sketch including a robot called the ‘indie soft boi 3000’ with Zoe Hinton and Jacinta Lin, and an intelligible indie singer with an acoustic guitar were relatable, yet still uniquely funny despite both being common tropes at play within contemporary comedy.
Producers Margaret Thanos and Alison Cooper should be commended for the versatility and chemistry that this year’s cast brought to the table. There was not a moment where the energy of the actors or crowd fell flat, and for two solid hours, we were all so engaged. Inside the Snowglobe is extremely indicative of the success and reputation of the University of Sydney Womn’s Revue society in creating a safe space for women and non binary actors, amateurs and comedians alike. The revue was well thought out, crisp, and as the closing number says: really warmed my soul.