Oxford Revue: Witch Hunt

Tue 15th – Sat 26th August 2017

reviews

Katrina Gaffney

at 09:08 on 21st Aug 2017

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Let’s start with a quick question - what do a former SNP candidate, an American Sunday School teacher and JK Rowling all have in common? The correct answer is, of course, the desire to defeat a gay Australian pop-star who also happens to be the future president of the European Union and a massive fascist. Bet you didn’t see that coming! I certainly didn’t when I arrived to the Oxford Revue’s slightly bizarre show for the Fringe, 'Witch Hunt'. This was a show full of surprises - many of them wonderful and hilarious. It kept the audience on its toes from beginning to end.

As I have already alluded to, the premise of the play is simple, it is mainly concerned with the demise of a racist, Australian pop-star named Milosz. There are various characters who wish to confront Milosz, each with their own reasons; Dawn, the religious teacher, is concerned by his influence in her daughter’s recent decision to come out as a lesbian, Mary, the political Scotswoman, doesn’t want to see him become president of the European Union and J.K Rowling, well she’s Mary’s enemy and just wants to ruin her plan. Oh and one more thing - there’s Lizard people, I must not forget the Lizard people. All of this might be sounding a little overwhelming but in the strange world created by the show it actually comes together remarkably well. I was initially concerned that such a combination of characters would just be confusing but the show pulled it off and managed to deliver a story filled to the brim with originality.

Much of the credit for the success of this show has to go to the three performers, Kathy Maniura, Derek Mitchell and Alistair Inglis. They all took on an insane number of different characters but played each of them brilliantly. I was impressed with the versatility of each cast member; the transitions between different accents were not always without fault but considering the task that the performers faced they did a pretty good job. It would be hard for me to chose a favourite character as so many of them were hilarious, however, I must give a special mention to J.K Rowling - she’s a public figure that seems to be rarely satirised but the jokes written about her were brilliantly topical. The other stand out character was Mary, with her incredibly boisterous, it was from her that came my favourite line from the show: “Jeremy Corbyn played my breasts like bongo drums.” Confused by this line? Then go see the show.

The setting for the show was slightly uninspired and it was a shame that the cast were performing costume changes on the side of the stage: this was in sight of the audience and could be a little distracting at times. Nevertheless, on the whole, the energy of the cast (and an impressive selection of wigs) worked to compensate for these minor flaws. The sheer originality of 'Witch Hunt' makes it a show worth seeing; packed with laughs and energy, I would recommend this to anyone hoping to see some truly unique comedy.

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Emily Lawford

at 13:46 on 21st Aug 2017

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The enemy that the characters in ‘Witch Hunt’ must defeat is a young Nazi politician who is threatening total border control. But this is not a dark commentary on modern political troubles, but rather the Oxford Revue’s new free comedy at Venue 56. Three actors - “an American, a Scot and a woman” as the notes read - play multiple outlandish characters in scenes that first seem like isolated sketches but then bleed into another to form a coherent plot of revenge and saving the world.

Some of the portrayals work better than others. Alistair Inglis’s performance as a violent SNP politician is particularly funny and his comic timing always gets a laugh from the audience. Kathy Maniura is amusing as an exaggerated J.K Rowling, forever desperate to keep her writing relevant with more claims of similarities between the wizarding world and modern-day politics, and Derek Mitchell’s concerned and hysterical Conservative American mother distressed by her lesbian daughter is also delightful to watch.

Some characters, however, are less exciting and some scenes fall flatter. While some of the jokes, such as Rowling’s attention-seeking and the American mother’s distressed homophobia seem a little overused, others could be more drawn out. The villainous characters, such as the lizard people and the young Nazi politician, could be much better explained and developed for the show to feel more well-rounded.

Moments of the play, which combines singing and dancing and lots of outlandish wigs, are hilariously funny, and it garnered several big laughs from the audience. The three actors, who also created the play, are very talented and versatile – however, if the play was conceived in rehearsals and workshops, perhaps that explains its drawbacks. The text simply feels like it needs more editing. Some scenes could do with ample cutting and sharpening, while others feel like they are crying out to be fleshed out a little more, as it’s still a little hit-and-miss, and some of the minor characters feel a little under-rehearsed as the timing is not always perfect.

The set and costumes are fun and creative, and the show is performed with energy and enthusiasm throughout. For a free performance at the Fringe, it’s a fun and light-hearted hour that showcases three strong and interesting actors who just, perhaps, need a bit more direction.

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