The less sense the Oxford Revue makes, the more sense its comedy makes. I can’t even describe the best moments from last night’s performance, because the mere act of speaking them would tarnish their side-splitting perfection. At their best when embracing Monty Python-esque absurdity, the five person cast of Rachel Watkeys-Dowie, David Meredith, Emily Honey, Will Truefitt, and George Mathers managed to create a delicious evening of one part “WTF?,” one part “Why is there a wheelbarrow on the stage?,” and seven parts glee, because I was so thrilled that they managed to crowbar in a George Galloway gag.
I wouldn’t say all of it was a smashing success. The show was at its best when it gave up trying to make sense, which unfortunately was not all the time. The writers used an overarching plot to, presumably, give some shape to the evening. It involved being trapped on a roundabout and manslaughter, and the premise managed to be neither bizarre enough nor realistic enough to keep me interested. I did, however, like the sinister parrot face. (Don’t ask, you’ll just have to see for yourself.)
Besides the roundabout plot, the sketches ranged from a botched funeral, to a botched the-birds-and-the-bees talk, to a botched flight, to a botched Law and Order interview. The variation kept me on my toes, and though the sketches worked from the standard “typical situation goes absurd” formula, how the absurd factored in was always a delightful surprise. Personally I thought almost all of the sketches were successful, but in the event that you failed to catch the cultural reference or see the humor, they were short enough that your agony would be over quickly.
The standout, in my mind, was David Meredith. With a totally weird physical humor and a penchant for finding words to rhyme with “roundabout,” he seemed the most adept at the kind of randomness that the Revue strives for. That is not to say that all five of the performers were not impressive in their own right; the cast was clearly a well-cohered and gifted troupe. There was no chewing of the scenery – although, a large panel, part of the set, did fall at one point. Which was hysterical.
I do have one final quick note, speaking strictly as an American and not as a reviewer. If you’re going to do an otherwise hilarious sketch of a Texan bounty hunter—forget the kooky weapons. You need guns. Lots and lots of guns.
**** (4 Stars)