Editor-in-Chief Elliot Douglas continues his run of reviewing things in this town which he has little authority to comment on with this aptly titled “review of the Revue”.
It’s funny how the ways in which we spend our free time go in waves, even in a town as small as this one. In first and second year I was a regular and devoted fan of the St Andrews comedy scene: from Blind Mirth to the Comedy Society to the coolest kids on the block: the St Andrews Revue. But it’s been years since I’ve seen any of these troupes strut their funny stuff – maybe I’m losing my sense of humour in my old age.
So it was a delight to pop down to the Barron last week and see an entirely fresh cohort of the St Andrews Revue take to the stage to make us giggle and raise some money for their Fringe show. And giggle I did – along with the rest of the audience in the packed-to-bursting theatre. The Revue is St Andrews’ sketch theatre group, an art which, while not necessarily involving more skill than stand-up or improv, certainly involves more collaborative preparation. The group knew their stuff and the hour-long show went with only one or two noticeable hiccoughs, which were mostly played well for laughs.
The Revue are at their best with high-concept, highly original sketches. A monologue featuring Matthew Midgett from a post-rehab Scooby Doo was hilariously done and Joe Casci’s sketch about a Godfather-esque family fighting over a game of Monopoly was wonderful. Midgett, in a double act with the fantastic Eloise Lobenthal, penned my favourite sketch of the night, a take-down of a Vice YouTube video with a hipster couple asking each other a set of pretentious, perfectly-timed and astutely-observed questions.
The workmanlike Edd Smith brought some pithy satire with his one-man “Fashion News” report – a biting mockery of the hypocrisy of St Andrews fashion shows. He also stood out in another sketch as American sent in to aid a pair of struggling British computer helpline employees, played with appropriate dour glumness by Joey Baker and Emma Sibbald. Baker’s earnest face was a reliable and humorous presence throughout the show as a whole. Ned Fiennes, meanwhile, shone as a French detective in a subversive mockery of the film noir genre.
Where the performance fell down a little was in the “Love Iceland” segments, which brought the show’s whole narrative together. All the performers were clearly less comfortable playing themselves (or an exaggerated version of themselves) than they were in playing wacky characters. Some dialogue between the prospective couples dragged a little, timings were missed, and I could have done without the apparently-unavoidable comedy trope of a character, when left alone upon the stage, singing All By Myself out of key. Bridget Jones has a lot to answer for.
Nevertheless, the energy and professionalism of the cast largely kept the show running smoothly and, once the audience was sold on the “Love Iceland” concept – which is, in itself, pretty amusing – we were all on-side to see the couples through to the bitter end. Overall, it was an amusing and well-rehearsed night that does St Andrews’ fine tradition of comedy proud. Oh, and there was an inflatable penguin.