first night

The Durham Revue! Live! On Ice!

Rebecca Mackinnon braves the cold to review Durham's official sketch comedy troupe! And likes it! A lot!

The only thing icy about Durham Revue on Ice was the reception from its audience. No, I’m entirely joking. I loved it and so did everyone else, it’s just that it’s very late and I really wanted to get an ice reference in here. The show was bubbly, fun, and despite the problems that might arise from the inevitable conflation of old and new performers at this time of year, there was great chemistry, some genuinely original material and exceptional comic performances.

The show began with a wonderfully effervescent Harry Bresslaw as The Crystal Maze’s Richard O’Brian, and was followed by the entire group running manically through the theatre and back onto stage as the Crystal Maze contestants. This was a great theme, with a lot of comic potential – unfortunately they only put one other Crystal Maze sketch into the show, and this could definitely be expanded upon. There followed a few sketches that fell a little flat; there were no crickets, but it wasn’t until later in the show that both audience and Revue seemed completely comfortable with the material. A Narnia related sketch that saw a disenchanted Northern Mr and Mrs Beaver find their way to open a chip shop in Swindon, through a cupboard in a furniture shop owned by an equally embittered Aslan, was a great moment for both performance and material. Another memorable sketch was one detailing Hagrid’s inexplicable ineptitude – ‘You’re a lizard, Harry,’ went through much assonantal mangling to become, ‘I’ve got a buzzard, Harry’ – it was fantastically silly, fast paced and well timed.

However, kudos must go to Revue stalwart Tessa Coates for her performance in the ballet sketch, which elicited the greatest applause of the night. Not only was the sketch intelligently written – the interplay between ‘Chateau Neuf’ and ‘Chat on Oeuf’ was excellent – but in addition, Coates deadpan performance of the strange stream of consciousness was a genuine joy to watch. The way in which the troupe swung from silliness (rolls of fat becoming, in the ballet instructor’s warped mind, baby seals) to morbidity bordering on vastly inappropriate (the Chuckle Brothers and cancer. Ahem.) was well handled and, for the most part, very funny.

A couple of other sketches deserve a mention: Jack Bauer and the Scooby gang, and Harry Bresslaw as an utterly surreal recurring turtle, both worked very well, due to the originality of concept and the performances. The final sketch, the most sublimely silly of them all, saw the troupe give us an answer for the name of the show in a remarkably random and unapologetic style. I won’t spoil it for you – just go and see it. All in all, this year has presented us with a very promising Revue. They are fun and charismatic performers, the show is full of energy, and it’s only an hour long so you can go and get merry afterwards. Perfect.

14 December 2010

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.
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