Commerce Revue 2022 is not afraid to be weird. In most instances, this would be a backhanded compliment to one of your less popular friends, but not in this case. Directors Eilish Wilkinson and Aidan Pollock have put together a show that is lively, funny, energetic, deeply odd, and well worth seeing. The absurdity of Commerce Revue propels it from sketch to sketch, maintaining a breakneck tempo while managing to avoid tiring the audience out.
The audience is shown (among many other things) Kermit and Miss Piggy’s messy divorce, the interview of a plant-based pig, and an amiable rascal stuck in a tree, rarely left any time to make sense of a scene before being ferried to the next. This provides Commerce Revue with its animus, but also leaves it with a good deal of untapped potential. If there was one substantial criticism I could make of this year’s Commerce Revue, it would be a lack of focus in some of its sketches. At times, good ideas felt underdeveloped, characters hazy, and punchlines clunky. These issues are common to all revues, but the energy and intensity of Commerce Revue seemed to magnify them. At times, I felt like they were sitting in on a rehearsal for a particularly gifted Theatresports team — funny, energetic, and improvisational.
This did not make Commerce Revue any less of a joy to watch. Every member of the cast brought wonderful energy to every scene they were in, and genuinely seemed to be having fun on stage. Commerce Revue did not, as revues often can, feel bloated, nor oversized, keeping to a tight two hours including intermission. Every sketch felt like it deserved its place in the show, even if they did not all feel fully realised in their potential.
That being said, there were of course some stand outs. ‘Is It Soup?’ was far funnier than it had any right to be as a depiction of a game show where judges tell soup apart from handbags, deftly steered by Leah Bruce as the show’s host. ‘Cheshire Cat’ saw Elliott Ulm as the titular feline, perfectly foiled by Callum Gallagher and Gita Pastro as the children he keeps awake with his antics. ‘The Family’ featured the whole cast as an innumerably large family of southern hicks, delivering a series of bizarre and hilarious introductions: “I’ve been bit by the same rattlesnake nine times!”.
Georgia Condon delivered a fantastic ‘Dolly Parton’ in Act One’s closer that can’t be described without spoiling the joke — but trust me, it’s funny. My personal favourite sketch, though, was the depiction of a Spongebob-themed convention for a failing company, perfectly marrying the show’s overarching absurdity with black, deadpan satire.
Special mention should be made of the musical sketches, which were not only far more numerous than in any other revue I’ve seen, but also of a remarkably consistent quality. It’s clear that this year’s cast has serious musical chops, which the directors have wisely put to good use. A love song to Amazon’s Alexa set to Hey There Delilah, a cautionary tale about Lime Bikes set to Once in a Lifetime, and an all-cast musical medley about Netflix’s Too Hot to Handle were all standouts. Slight audio mixing issues sometimes interfered with the musical sketches, making singers inaudible under the music, but these were minor and likely down to the inevitable chaos of opening night.
If you are wondering whether or not to see Commerce Revue, I strongly suggest that you do. It can be unfocused, rough around the edges, and sometimes just a tad too strange to follow, but these idiosyncrasies make the cast’s strengths shine, creating a high-energy show that demonstrated the cast’s energy and enthusiasm to perform, and that I certainly enjoyed watching. Go see Commerce Revue. You may, at times, scratch your head. You may feel confused. You may even cry. But you will almost certainly laugh.
ComRev closes on Saturday September 3rd, tickets available here. Use code ‘SHOWDONTTELL’ for $13 tickets.