Last year, I had the pleasure of seeing the Durham Revue compete at the Gala Theatre alongside the comedic heavyweights of the Oxford Revue and Cambridge Footlights… and come out on top. With that performance in mind, the expectation could hardly be higher for this stand alone show at the Assembly Rooms, and they certainly didn’t disappoint.
Elgan Alderman, Simon Gallow, Sam Kennerly and David Knowles, alongside newcomers Charlotte Whistlecroft and Abigail Weinstock formed an impressive sextet although the boys, speaking of sex, had some teething issues when it came to the two new girls, given their apparent lack of interaction with women in the past (that’s not a dig, it’s a part of the show!). School boy fears aside, however, the early sketch where a couple skip between radio stations sets the precedent for an audience being left in stitches throughout: it’s sharp, well thought out and superbly executed. While it seems absurd for the combination of a gardening show, an agony aunt, a political update and a music playlist to be the source of such hilarity, seeing the show will fully help you understand!
Sadly towards the middle of the performance there was a slight dip in laughs which came as a result of, what I call, the Python Problem. An ailment by which, for every sketch of excellent quality born out of impressive originality, there are two that don’t quite hit the mark. This is, of course, an issue that blights the very best, and for every miss there was a massive hit. The ‘blind woman in the shop’ scene didn’t really draw the laughs, but that was made irrelevant by quick-cuts to quite hilarious movie trailers – Alice in Sunder-land being a particular favourite.
Indeed the best comedy was to be found in the strangest of places. The Tony the Tiger scene looked set to be a clanger, if I’m honest, although its unorthodoxy turned out to be the highlight. No one in the audience will ever eat a bowl of Frosties again without flashbacks to this perverse scene of disturbing hilarity. Another entertaining moment was the irony of hearing a posh person say ‘did you know I’m a massive lad?’ which always makes me laugh out loud for some reason.
The show was a huge success, with the opening night audience being highly receptive to the brand of comedy on offer. There was nothing fancy about it, nor dark; it was just some good old fashioned tomfoolery that everyone appreciated immensely. The performers weren’t the only stars of the show however, with the lighting and sound being in wonderful sync with the movements and comic timing of those on stage, which is essential for a successful performance. All in all, it was a wonderfully funny show that brought laughter and enjoyment to all involved.