For years, the Durham Revue have been one of the strongest university sketch troupes around and this year is no exception. Highly professional, wonderfully witty and perfectly paced, the five-strong group take us through a series of vignettes ranging from stoically deadpan to wildly absurd, showcasing some fine comedic talent along the way.
It is this range which allows the Durham Revue to shine. Classic children's TV shows are reinvented alongside highly-strung boardroom meetings, while a pair of literal-minded police officers discussing a case is a particular highlight, turning common phrases on their heads to great effect. While many shows of this genre rely on recent events to fuel their comedic fire, the Durham Revue largely steer away from knowledge-based satire, providing a very accessible hour of comedy.
A few sketches seemed a little directionless, teasing cheap laughs out of recognisable situations such as fraught family roadtrips, yet failing to culminate in a polished punchline. Others featured recurring characters who appeared, disappeared and failed to really reach their peak. This aside, the troupe provided some of the finest one-liners I've ever heard and their use of voice-overs and props was sparse but very nicely done.
Maybe if their characters had a little more sticking power, the Durham Revue could really cement their place in the comedy circuit, but as a casual, commitment-free hour, Friends Without Benefits is a great way to blow off some steam.