first night

The Durham Revue: Returners' Show 2015/16

Hannah Sanderson laughs the night away with The Durham Revue's 'Gigglebox'.

Returning to Durham decorated with a number of successful reviews and awards, The Durham Revue certainly had a lot to prove tonight with Gigglebox. And they succeeded with style. From the start the audience were thrown into a mixed bag of hilarious and relatable sketches, and the amount of energy and stage presence displayed by each comedian was highly commendable. Although some jokes fell flat in the show’s early stages as The Revue attempted to gauge their audience, this was shortly remedied, and constant laughter later rang throughout.

Each sketch followed the theme of a television channel and the well-considered combination of comedy, music and sound effects made this show premise particularly successful. Combined with the running gag poking fun at the Technical Director’s apparent ineptitude (Tanya Agarwal), the troupe made expert use of segue music so that each song carried reference to the previous sketch. And despite bearing the brunt of many jokes, Agarwal was consistently on time and complemented the troupe’s comedy perfectly.

Over the course of the hour, The Revue tackled themes such as politics, technology, relationships and the endless drudgery of everyday life. And they did so skilfully. Andrew Shires showed an impressive ability to elicit laughter long after a joke had ended through using exaggerated facial expressions. Abigail Weinstock oozed confidence from every pore and all eyes were drawn to her whenever she was on stage. Her pairing with Alison Middleton worked well and their humour complemented each other nicely. However, my standout for the evening was Tom Harper, who displayed an excellent range of accents and roles and never failed to make me laugh.

It was a shame that each member of the troupe appeared to have chosen a specific characteristic to carry throughout the performance. While stereotypes are understandably a stock theme in sketch comedy, this does not make typecasting a requirement. And after a while some traits became rather grating, which sadly made certain sketches somewhat predictable. Also, a few of the performers received a lot more stage time than others, and I would like to have seen more of Tristan Robinson and Ambika Mod in particular.

Having said this, The Revue must be commended on creating such enjoyable sketches purely through using intelligent humour, rather than relying on crass language, vulgar mannerisms or cheap gags to draw in laughs from audience members. I particularly enjoyed their sketches on technology, which were carefully thought-out, well timed and executed with aplomb.

Overall, this was an extremely enjoyable hour-long show performed by highly talented comedians, and the 2015/16 troupe can be very proud of their final performance together. While I believe there were some aspects that could have been improved, The Durham Revue not only lived up to my expectations, but they blew them away. I now look forward to following their progress this year with the addition of some new faces and some fresh comedy.

14 October 2016

The views expressed in the reviews and comments on this page are those of the reviewer, and are not representative of the views of DST or Durham University.
Our theatre that speaks for itself

DST is proud to be supported by: PwC