‘Vous Revue (Ha Ha): A Eurovision Saga’ review by Zara Stokes Neustadt

The ‘New Revue’: six performers, five new faces, and two writers, not including the contributions of the actors themselves. Though not the most well-oiled machine (yet), the troupe delivered a many-laughs-a-minute comic offering, setting the shiniest iteration of the group off to a fresh and bold beginning.

Packed with truly absurd concepts, I must commend the writers for their imagination. A proficient mix of wordplay-based puns and bizarre situations, the ingredients for an entertaining show were most certainly there – whoever invented the work-fundraiser sketch deserves both praise and fear. The Eurovision premise was fun, especially in moments punctuated by voiceover artists/writers Jack Simmonds and Teagen Booker, and the Revue’s musical submission (Marc Twinn’s interpretive ribbon dance) brought a brilliant amount of energy to the show, accompanied by appropriately camp lighting by Henry Flack and Archie Collins. However, as is often the case when trying to bring cohesion to an inherently disparate offering, the theme was predominantly sidelined. It would have been interesting to see more nods to Eurovision, yet, an hour is only so long.

Moreover, each performer brought their best individual qualities forth, underscoring the show with enthusiasm and comic instinct. Building on Booker and Simmond’s brilliant accent work, the vocal variations of the performers were deeply entertaining. Both Bea Bennet in her wonderfully commanding ‘Valencia’ moment, and Jay Robinson as a Scouse shop assistant (brief though the appearance was) were sublime. As previously mentioned, Twinn literally threw himself into his dance routine, displaying brilliant commitment. His turn as a dirty-minded Harry Potter was an inventive angle on familiar material and was well-executed by both Twinn, and Melissa Redman in her flamboyant ‘Voldemort’. Thinking of commitment, Lex Irish’s inhabitation of Shaggy in the troupe’s mystery gang sketch, as well as his Buckaroo, were executed with unwavering physical and vocal intensity; on this, the small cutout of Naga Munchetty was a quietly hilarious addition to Buckaroo’s load. Alannah O’Hare often brought a relatable energy to the most insane of sketches, deserving great commendation for humorously reconciling the incongruity of outlandish situation and nonchalant delivery and Redman consistently kept energy high while bringing just the right amount of wackiness to her characterisations.

Many of the punchlines were witty, but unfortunately, more than a few were either lost to parts of the audience, due to hurried or over-quiet delivery, or occurred a little too early in sketches. A few here and there may have been improved by a stricter approach to editing: the humorous resolutions were undoubtedly present, but were occasionally succeeded by slightly less punchy dialogue that could have been sacrificed. Additionally, a couple of premises were perhaps a little too meandering and obscure, either meaning the audience took a while to understand what was unfolding, or going over some heads. Having said this, the ideas were certainly funny when they came into fruition – they just might have benefited from hooking audience members in a little earlier.

For the 2024 troupe’s first ever show, each component member should sincerely feel proud of their achievement. Constructing an hour of themed original material, with many of them new to the landscape of comedy-writing, is absolutely no mean feat, and the many laughs of the hour were earned by the troupe’s dedication and impressive creativity. I genuinely look forward to following this new cohort of the Revue, and seeing what comic exploits they have in store.        

Photo provided by the Durham Revue.                                                           

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