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The Oxford Revue 2010

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Head off to Brighton for a retro-romp at the seaside

Was it the audience’s post- election euphoria which greeted last night’s performers? The Playhouse was the venue for 2010's showcase of university revue talent from Durham, Cambridge and Oxford, directed with great aplomb by Ella Evans. They certainly clapped and shouted fit to bust.

The prodigiously talented comics were on pyrotechnic display throughout the night. Their collective wit veered from bawdiness ‘you make me wetter than Ophelia’ to blood and guts skewering: an eager reveller calling at B&Q for ‘sharp nails’ and wooden planks in time for a Crucifixion party. If that wasn’t service enough, B&Q also offered the opportunity to put up shelves in a rainforest ‘giving the wood back to the trees’.

Surreal narrative sketches abounded. One threesome blasted off into space, only to find that the oxygen cylinders had been unwittingly jettisoned to make room for more Doritos. Where best to conceal your wife’s outsized turd laid in the boss’s bathroom, than in a designer handbag belonging to his wife – which she then wrestles from you in a determined tug of war? Better than a tin of tuna, are Francis Bacon and Anneka Rice, both cooked for dinner. ‘I know you like to try new things.’ One-liners can fall flat, but not once this evening. Durham’s superb Ned French’s jazz crash was a masterpiece of comic timing ‘Jazz can go offbeat, a driver can’t'.

Cambridge Footlights’ stand up comedians Dannish Babar and Phil Wang both performed marvellous sets, with consummate confidence, timing and invention. Babar’s ode to Wigan and meditation on board games with audience ad lib, and Wang’s lolathon and ukele were delivered with a panache Gok Wan and Michael McIntyre might have envied.

Obsession and weirdness were wittily observed by Cambridge’s Katy Bulmer’s poem on Shakespeare, and Oxford’s Sophie Klimt’s beautifully voiced song to her lover/Daddy, while who can forget the high kicking technicolour hot pants of Oxford’s heron-like Ollie Mann?

Durham’s 24678’s warning to all parents to properly brief their babysitter, the brilliantly inventive blackberry and orange edible telecommunications, and the failed attempt to manipulate shoppers to fill their baskets under the guise of an Arthurian quest were all hugely enjoyable.

Cambridge’s reality show between Engels and Marx, their rapping math teacher, and the prediction that Bono would be Prime Minister in 2015 were terrific, and the simplicity and timing of lifting a bride’s veil, gave another beautifully judged one-liner.

Rob Stockhill deserves special mention for his superb musical timing between and during the Oxford Revue’s sketches. As one Northern father exclaimed, on discovering that his priest son was an atheist:
‘Fist a midget!’

It couldn’t have been more fun.

Alison Boulton (DI Reviewer), 12/05/10

You know what? This is funny. Yup - laugh-out-loud, at times hilariously, good old-fashioned funny. I haven't seen a Revue this good in years, if ever.

Whilst initially appearing to grasp the current vogue for early 20th century retro by the sweaty, sandy nipple, there's no British holiday camp innuendo here. Instead, it's all spaff-in-yer-face, muggings, rape, incest, posh idiots and mad racist spies - a veritable gamut of British stereotypes depicted in glorious technicolour, with no modesty left uncovered (well, there's no nudity, but those averse to swearing should wear earmuffs) - all to live piano (plus some ukelele) accompaniment. And yet, it's no Little Britain either. Where you might be predicting a sledgehammer, a skit diverts instead in joyously surreal and tangential fashion. The acting is bloody good. The level of maturity both in the acting and the content of the sketches is impressive; the choreography is brilliant; very few of the jokes fall flat and nobody appeared to mess anything up or corpse. I'm impressed.

Whilst the entire cast have their outstanding moments, watch out especially for emo David Walliams-alike Ollie Mann's Health and Safety Inspector and movement teacher, the fine voice of Sophie Klimt and the trembling elderly lip of Samuel Collins' Horatio Brown. Also Adam Lebovits is superbly hairy for a fresher. And that poo sketch would have made Viz proud.

Oxford can be confident that these jolly guys and gals will do a dashed fine job of Representing (yo) at Edinburgh Fringe this year. I for one would gladly watch it all over again. Twice. Hurrah!

Su Jordan (DI Reviewer), 24/02/10

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