For the annual Comedyfest show at the Gala Theatre in Durham, three university sketch comedy groups brought their best game to the stage. The St Andrews Revue, The Cambridge Footlights and The Durham Revue all had the audience laughing, smiling, and cringing – it was truly an evening not to miss.
Up first was The St Andrews Revue. Coming all the way from Scotland, the group performed some fantastic sketches – an audience and personal favourite was their ‘Men in STEM’ sketch – and some slightly less well-received pieces. Some were slightly too long and missed the mark, dragging out the punchlines, and their repetitive use of music meant there was a lack of entertaining variation and contrast between sketches. Costumes, though, as well as confidence on stage, were admirable, and the team seemed comfortable working together. Albeit slightly less well-polished than the other troupes, their performance was still enjoyable.
Following The St Andrews Revue was the well-known Cambridge Footlights. Performing as an all-female group, they drew on their current Horrible Herstory show, with a plethora of thought-provoking and satiric sketches. Particularly notable was their inclusion of a range of historical and modern references, such as Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 and Florence Nightingale. The team showed energy, dynamism, and onstage chemistry, making their pieces stand out. They drew well on current themes and feminist topics and crafted their humour with subtlety and intelligence. A stand-out piece was, undoubtedly, their satire of Tampax Pearl adverts, which left the audience in fits of laughter. Overall, an amusing performance, complete with a bold stage presence, chemistry between performers and excellent audience engagement.
Whilst the out-of-towners gave solid performances, it was truly The Durham Revue who stood out. With unmatched energy, vitality and comic gold, Durham’s finest comedy group never fails to get an audience going, really engendering an atmosphere of hilarity and joy. Slightly less politically charged and contentious than in previous shows, the new ensemble really brought fresh material to the stage. New and old members alike created a team that gelled well together, and comedic timing was never off, as can only be expected from The Durham Revue. Praise must be given to Tansy Adam and Bob Howat, whose ability to hold a straight face in front of an audience dying of laughter is highly impressive. Stand-out sketches included ones about a chicken hat, a pilot, a train station and even Nigella Lawson. How the writers fathom such pieces is beyond me – the creativity, humour and originality of the writing is extremely striking. Truly, nothing fails to get an audience – especially a Durham one – going like The Durham Revue.
All three groups – all of whom gave solid performances – deserve praise for their performances. The evening was what comedy is all about. The atmosphere in the theatre was fun, light-hearted, and energetic, and the audience left utterly satisfied.