The Oxford Revue: Free

Thu 4th – Sun 28th August 2016

reviews

Miriam Brittenden

at 06:46 on 20th Aug 2016

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A mix of witty and well-crafted anecdote, stand-up, sketches, and even a drag queen, it can't be denied that the Oxford Revue write and perform a very good show.

The decision to have two of the Revue members as hosts kicking off works well. The pair have a good dynamic between them, and keep the show rolling. Their chatty, relaxed tone creates a great rapport with the audience, and I particularly enjoy one of their opening anecdotes about the "typology" of those who reject flyers. Even the "Evasive Erics" of the audience (we’ve probably all been guilty of this label one time or another…) laugh heartily.

There are, however, points where this pace is broken a little, and the hosts appear to lack confidence. Some extended hesitations at points lead to the feeling that the pair are disarmed by each other’s jokes, somewhat disrupting the natural flow that other parts maintain.

Next we have Donna Kerbabe, a heavily contoured drag queen, who treats us to an incredibly sassy lip-sync mashup of quotes and songs. Kerbabe's energy, facial expressions of seismic proportions, and complete lack of inhibition make for a very funny skit. That said, it goes on a little long, feeling somewhat repetitive by the end. To justify this length, it needs to be developed further.

A later sketch of fictional stand-up comedian ‘Jerry Katona’ is another amusing part of the Revue's set. The painfully shy Scouser, brother to the more notorious Kerry Katona and deliverer of awful jokes, makes for a well received satire on poor stand-up comedy.

The second part of the set features 'Horseplay’: a series of sketches by all members of the group. These are well thought out, and on the whole well-executed, tackling Masterchef, Pingu, and even the gender of the Almighty. The quality of humour is testified by the raucous reaction of the audience. Some moments are weaker than others though. One sketch really suffers from a lack of pace and confidence, and in the performance I watch, one member of the group has something of a mind bank. It can happen to the best performers, but is dealt with by a rather clumsy, mumbled apology to the audience. This unfortunately strips some professionalism from the piece.

This show is rough around the edges, and could do with some slickening up, but overall, this is good quality comedy – witty and imaginative.

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Serena Basra

at 17:35 on 20th Aug 2016

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Boasting a list of alumni including Sally Phillips and Michael Palin, the Oxford Revue has a high bar set for their 52nd year at the Fringe. This fresh talent does not fail to live up to such high expectations as the five-piece cast have produced a truly witty and creative show.

At times the comedy is delightfully subversive, a sketch focusing upon Pingu masturbating is unexpected and frankly hilarious, and it is in these moments of absurd humour that the troupe performs at their strongest. The drag act Donna Kebab (Marcus Knight-Adams) leaves the audience in fits of rapturous laughter. He mimes to a soundtrack which flits rapidly between an emotional Hollywood-esque break up scene and a saucy pop song which at one point features a (wonderfully unnecessary) cucumber. Admittedly, the stand-out moment of the show is perhaps the cookery sketch as Derek Mitchell’s flamboyant caricature of a culinary ‘expert’ is accompanied by a wonderfully expressive face and a remarkable comic timing.

Whilst the sheer volume of sketches within the hour-long performance is commendable, the show would benefit from being streamlined as the various conceits, at times, feel overdone. The repetitive nature of Jerry Katona’s (Stefan Harvey’s) stand-up soon becomes tiresome whilst 'Horseplay'’s piece centred around our reliance on Siri feels derivative and prevents the ensemble from showcasing more innovative material.

Despite much of the comedy being well-received, with cheers and laughter frequently rippling throughout the crowd, the show suffers from stilted audience interaction. The cheery demeanour of hosts Derek Mitchell and Kathy Maniura is not enough to cover moments of failed comedy, prompting a feeling of awkwardness which drifts into one or two of the sketches. When a line is forgotten an apology, rather than an exercise of improvisation, is offered and at times the ensemble break character as they laugh at one another on stage in a manner which weakens the show.

Nevertheless, their enthusiasm remains palpable throughout the production and the rapport between the various cast members enables this production to possess a high energy throughout. Whilst it may not be the funniest show you see at the Fringe, the Oxford Revue is sure to leave you with a smile on your face and a spring in your step as you walk out the door.

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