This year’s Women’s Revue is a cheeky, fun filled exploration of gender, coming of age, and when it is appropriate to be barefoot. Directed by Eilish Wilkinson and Jacqui Stephens, the show is a high energy romp that delivers strong, snappy, and at times absurd sketches that speak to genuine emotions and experiences.
This year’s theme was TAKE OFF. The opening and closing numbers featured the cast as various recognisable tropes of travel — from tired backpackers to vomit bags to another well calibrated sketch that explored the intimacy of sharing the tiny two-seater at the back of a Sydney train carriage. The sketches ventured beyond the theme with over a third taking place in medical facilities.
USyd’s various identity revues have the task of balancing comedy that has a universal appeal with observations about the unique experiences of the group they represent. It’s a hard task, but TAKE OFF struck this balance well. There were a few stand out sketches, including a sharp parody of doctors who treat all ailments with hormonal birth control, and a musical number spoofing Leonardo DiCaprio’s plan for an ever-renewing supply of young girlfriends. The best sketch of the night was a monologue exploring one young girl’s experience at summer camp, which was both well scripted and dynamically performed.
The show’s directors showed great restraint in their inclusion of multiple 30-seconds-or-less sketches, which quickly and cleanly delivered their punchlines and helped maintain a sense of energy throughout the show. Other sketches lacked the same level of development and attention to detail: their concept was often strong, but would have been improved by more varied and engaging blocking and a more ruthless approach to script editing. A sketch in which the toys of Toy Story learn to embrace sharing Andy’s attention with a vibrator was a strong concept, and the vibrator’s performance (and costuming!) was highly memorable — but dragged in the moments between the audience ‘getting it’ and the actual delivery of the punchline.
The musical numbers were strong throughout the show. Musical pieces are a unique challenge in revues, as even the most confident performers can be very timid singers, and it’s hard to strike the right chord (pun intended) between comedy and musicality. TAKE OFF did this very well, with both the opening and closing numbers delivering a tone-setting high energy bookend to the show, and a FILM1001 presentation parody that had the audience cackling.
This year’s Women’s Revue does a solid job of exploring a range of unique topics and perspectives and makes good use of the unique talents of its cast. The fast paced feel of the show helps to keep audiences engaged throughout its run time, and the crowd’s energy was palpable throughout the performance. There is still one night left to see the show, and it’s very much worth checking out.