For a free sketch show you can't go wrong with Oxford Revue's free accompaniment to its main show. The first of three separate groups have finished their run, and if the remaining two shows are as strong as the first showing it is well worth a watch.
All in all, it was a smooth, solid sketch show and without paying a penny, it is worth the trip to The Jam House.
The Oxford Revue kicked off with a marvellous opening sketch, laced with the acknowledgement that there would be a mixture of high-brow and low-brow jokes. Within two minutes there was cake being fed into a belly button. It was a great start, though this level of quality was not sustained for the whole hour.
There were signs of ambition from the group, who at times attempted some truly intelligent comedy. The group found further success with the sketches that descended into the surreal; clearly there had been no lack of creativity from the troupe during the writing. A particularly inspired sketch involved Batman and Robin seeking help from a counsellor worked well because it was a genuinely funny premise, and as a result the characters could say almost anything and it would receive a laugh.
It must be said that not all the group's premises were so humourous. The majority of sketches based around real-life people (such as Jeremy Clarkson and Barry Chuckle) were much weaker and lacked originality. It was this shortcoming that was the major contributor to the occasional flatness of the performance. Though the group should be commended for including some running gags, the actual jokes themselves were not at all their strongest; thus it felt a little forced.
Two individuals deserve singling out: Josh Dolphin and Tom Downing. Both provided the energy that the show thrived on and showed good range in accents, characters and sound command of timing. It is heartwarming to see such nuggets of hidden talent, a vital component of the Edinburgh Fringe experience. All in all, it was a smooth, solid sketch show and without paying a penny, it is worth the trip to The Jam House.