Oxford Revue: But Seriously

Thu 4th – Sun 28th August 2011

reviews

Madeleine Stottor

at 08:55 on 14th Aug 2011

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The Oxford Revue is a world-famous comedy sketch group. Boasting past members like Armando Iannucci, Ian Hislop, and Stuart Lee, you expect a lot from them, whether unreasonably or not. I first saw the Oxford Revue this time last year, and was, to my surprise, not that impressed. Yes, they were clever, yes, they were funny – but just not that funny. Thankfully, this year I was surprised again: ‘But Seriously’ is a tight, well-written, and really very funny show.

The Revue’s sketches cover a remarkable range of subjects. Judas Iscariot, Batman, a female fireman, (literally) vegetable Big Brother contestants and the sea all feature here, while a storyline based around American detective Hank Bublé provides a coherency that many other sketch shows lack. Despite the catholic nature of the topics covered, the show never feels bitty or disconnected. This is partly due to the excellent direction of Jessica Palmarozza, and partly due the group’s own chemistry. They seem to enjoy performing their sketches as much as the audience enjoy watching them, and are able to work well with each other.

Personal favourites included ‘Married to the Sea: coming soon to BBC3’ and two vegetable parents dealing with their tomato son’s sugar abuse and fruity leanings. The army officer sketch was very well-received by the audience, delivered stylishly by Adam Lebovits. What I like about the Oxford Revue is their mix of different comedy styles. The show is very well-written and clever, and covers everything from Marvel comics to the Bible. Molly Hart, Max Fletcher, and Nick Davies were particularly impressive for me, but each group member is uniquely and genuinely funny.

This year’s Oxford Revue show lives up to the group’s formidable history, and more than exceeded my expectations. As a coulrophobic, I was glad to see clowns portrayed as the criminal masterminds they truly are, and I would thoroughly recommend the Revue’s latest outing.

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David Knowles

at 11:48 on 14th Aug 2011

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I went to see the Oxford Revue having already watched them earlier in the year. I had not been very impressed then but was curious to find out if the troupe had improved come Edinburgh. Unfortunately this was not the case. The same problems dominated the cast and sketches.

The main problem I found was the sketch which takes up around two thirds of the show is not very funny. It’s a long, drawn out mick-take of crime dramas involving clowns and mimes and other such ‘hilarity’. True, it does contain one or two good jokes and pithy observations but these are few and far between. The energy is sustained fairly effectively throughout these sketches by Nick Davies who has something of a Hugh Laurie energy about him, although he is not nearly as amusing.

Although the energy is impressive the lack of jokes is not and many of my fellow audience members took the matter into their own hands and left early. I counted around sixteen.

It’s one thing to say that a sketch group are poor, quite another to explain why. I felt that the troupe was spending so much time trying to be out there and different that they forgot what makes good comedy. Some of the sketches were truly bizarre and left the audience in a baffled silence. There is obvious talent in the cast no doubt but no one member really stands out. They come across less as comedians than actors who can occasionally tell good jokes.

That said the shorter sketches were generally much better and the highlight for me was the conversation between a tomato and his parents who had found cinnamon in his room.

Although there were some sparks of life in this show, it’s definitely not worth the £8 one pays to get in.

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