The Warwick Revue presents: Night Shift

Sat 5th – Tue 15th August 2017

reviews

Eleanor Lawson

at 12:51 on 14th Aug 2017

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While the concept of the Warwick Revue’s sketch show, Night Shift, sounds initially intriguing, it appeared to me almost as if the show forgets its own theme, only applying it to a few sketches scattered sporadically throughout the performance. This indicates much about the rest of the show, in which sketches fizzle out without a suitable conclusion, and the energy of its cast wildly varies.

Where there is comedic potential, it is sunk by delivery or comic timing. A joke that should be left to simmer for maybe five to ten seconds is left to stew for nearly a minute. Scenes with a touch of humour are left to fizzle away without any sort of punch line, with one sketch being wrapped up with a couple making out for no justified comedic reason. Jokes that would actually arouse laughter if performed with deadpan are given no energy and thus fall flat on their face. There is a genuine potential that lurks behind some of these jokes, but they are often hindered by a lack of confidence on the behalf of performers or a misjudgment in delivery and timing.

The concept behind the sketch show is that new employees are beginning on their first night shift, and scenes of office banter are scattered throughout the show among seemingly random sketches. Such sketches include a joke about the homoeroticism between James Bond and his poker opponent, wrapped up with a bystander telling them to sleep together, or a harrowing ‘never have I ever’ scene in which a dog is brutally killed feels more depressing than funny. One gem in the midst of this series of misjudgments was a court scene which was resolved with a dance off with George Michael, and a pun on one of his most beloved songs.

With some reworking, various scenes do have potential to be a success. Some, however, feel crude and misjudged. A joke about political correctness gone wild in regards to assuming gender, leads to an unimpressive punchline about a “pangender bisexual Lib Dem”. A sketch in which a boyfriend is pressured by his girlfriend to have his penis measured in order for a toy to be made based on its dimensions feels particularly uncomfortable with its insinuations about gender and masculinity.

With some changes to delivery and timing, many of these jokes would actually be funny. However, the cast at times felt hostile to their audience’s reactions, and when audience participation was hampered by nerves and uncertainty, they were sworn at by two cast members. There are some good jokes but this piece ultimately needs a serious rethink in terms of content and performance.

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Abi Newton

at 20:17 on 14th Aug 2017

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There were many things that perplexed me about the Warwick Revue’s sketch show ‘Night Shift’. I didn’t understand why each member of the audience was given a sticker bearing the name of a well-known character or personality from popular culture upon entry, I didn’t understand what relation most of the jokes had to a ‘Night Shift’, and I didn’t understand what this group envisioned they would achieve with an hour of jokes that were lacklustre, confusing, and not very funny. In a festival with no shortage of magnificent student comedy groups successfully and enthusiastically entertaining people each night, this show fails to live up to a standard of comedy achieved with apparent ease by others of its type, and treats its audience with only a modicum of respect and intelligence.

In an audience of around twenty, few jokes garnered any response more appreciative than a stifled snort. Boring and confusing punchlines were hashed out about PC-culture, alcoholic middle-aged women, and condoms, as if the writers had taken all their material from a conversation between a group of thirteen-year old boys. The show was not just immature in its subject theme: there was a petulant, thoroughly unlikable aspect to some of the cast’s interactions with the audience. Not only was there a sense from some cast members of a severe lack of enthusiasm for what they were performing, there was an outright insulting tone from others. Twice were we sworn at for not participating in a section of one sketch, which testifies to the blatant unprofessionalism of the group. This really does beg the question that if you want to involve your audience in a scene but react aggressively when they appear reluctant to do so, what is the motivation for including this scene at all? The most telling aspect of this was a shambolic moment when the cast misplaced a table needed for the next scene, and spent the next thirty seconds scrambling around to improvise a new prop while a cast member flailed his arms around and shouted in an attempt to make us watch him instead of the chaos behind him, as though we were babies in need of distracting by a shiny object.

It isn’t fair to say that the show is completely unsalvageable – a selection of the concepts could have found their place in a more niche, devotedly zanier setting with some reworking of comic timing and attitude. If this troupe wishes to improve their performances, they will need to find a way of entertaining people with different senses of humour to their own, stop relying on tired, buzzword concepts for cheap laughs, and seriously deflate any overblown egos in the group. There is a special kind of arrogance in swearing at your audience for failing to make them participate, then still having the gall to ask for donations from them after the show. Until this is dealt with, this is not a show worth wasting time on.

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