The Oxford Revue: Issues

The Oxford Revue’s 2015 Fringe offering is a confident display of strong student comedy. David, Barney, and Will are a charismatic trio and have all the makings of a truly outstanding sketch troupe. However, the show’s more pedestrian material cannot entirely be ignored despite the sheer brilliance of its best sketches.

They are each fine actors and deliver committed, understated performances.

The three performers have an easy rapport, both with each other and the audience. They have a knack for making virtues out of their various comical vices. Will has an ongoing obsession with local humour, relevant only to residents of Cranbrook, Kent. Barney grabs every opportunity to give their show a political edge. And David is obsessed with performing a sketch that revolves around the terrible punchline ‘it was a turtle disaster’. The turtle sketch is spun out throughout the show, in increasingly hilarious versions. The fourth member of the troupe ‘is you’ we are told, and imagined tweets from the audience are read out intermittently. Although original, the conceit isn’t always funny enough to warrant its inclusion.

Many of the initial sketches are gently amusing rather than hilarious. The scary robot, canned laughter ailment, and Nigel Farage sitcom fail to rouse more than a weak smile. Likewise, David’s smelly breath skit is forgettable. Issues picks up dramatically at the parodic anti-feminist sketch and here the trio demonstrate their writing’s sharp potential.

Their hips have sharp potential too, and words aren’t necessary for their wonderfully effective dancing sketch. Anyone whose dance-floor mime-lasso has ever been rejected will empathise with this one. Music is a real strong point for the Oxford Revue and David plays some brilliant alternatives to the British national anthem. Issues ends on a real high; quite literally, due to David’s supernaturally high voice in the final football match sketch. The three blend their voices in impressive harmony as blokeish chanting football supporters. The choral singing grows in complexity, to hysterical results.

The Oxford Revue provide an entertaining hour. They are each fine actors and deliver committed, understated performances. Unfortunately, some sketches just aren’t tight enough – for example an erotic fiction read-through which goes on a little too long. Only a little bit of tweaking and the set would live up to its evidently brilliant potential.

Reviews by Kate Wilkinson

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The Blurb

The critically acclaimed Oxford Revue returns to the Fringe for its 51st year, bringing an hour of hilarious sketch comedy, written and performed by the country's finest student comedians. Mixing the absurd and the satirical, Issues promises to be the Revue's sharpest and most subversive show to date. Since it was founded, the Oxford Revue has been the starting point for many of the UK's best loved comedians, including Rowan Atkinson, Alan Bennett and Michael Palin. 'Witty, inventive and extremely clever' ***** (ThreeWeeks).