Oxford revue

Oxford Revue: A Room with Revue review

Upon entering the Old Fire Station, the sparkling riffs of Last Orders, the accompanying four-piece band greeted the audience, willing them to take their seats. With 2023-24 being the 70th year anniversary (depending on who you ask) of the Oxford Revue comedy group, a lot was to be expected of the performance to come. As I took my seat, fellow audience members around me excitedly spoke about their friends in the cast, and who might be expected to break character.

The Oxford Revue: A Room with Revue was a two-night, skit-based showcase directed by Jacob Tidmarsh and Alex McGovern. I attended the second performance, which also featured Oxford Revue alumnus Sally Phillips. She is best known for her on-stage appearances in Veep and Bridget Jones’s Baby as “the one who didn’t get to kiss Colin Firth, Patrick Dempsey, or Hugh Grant”, she noted in her introduction, speaking over the intercom off stage. For this performance, the cast also included, in alphabetical order: Annabelle Chua, Kayvan Gharbi, James Hazell, Kat Jennings, Adam Pickard, Kit Renshaw-Hammond, Elise Stringfellow, Ilse van Niekerk, and Rosie Wood. 

The showcase was divided into two segments with a 15-minute interval. The first half was more cringe-worthy than I expected., such as a skit near the end, where Hazell and Stringfellow swapped traditional marriage vows for a ‘ten paces and turn’ style gun-wielding duel. The concept was funny but the skit was short, and ended abruptly. Still, it had its standouts. During the cast introduction, Gharbi was repeatedly introduced. While this felt bothersome in the moment, it culminated quite well as he had two other segments where he seemed to sneak onto the stage and break into a foot-fetish-themed rendition of Radiohead’s “Creep”. Another of my favourite sketches was a therapist with a McDonald’s sponsorship played by van Niekerk, urging her ill patient, Wood, to “try a nugget? You’ll feel better.” 

Last Orders played the entire show, with snippets of Stevie Wonder and Blur’s “Parklife”. They also hit a tune between each skit, which gave the showcase a sense of cohesion. And of course, because it’s a comedy show, the drummer threw in punchline rimshots when needed.

The second segment was much better, in my opinion, showing the individual strengths of the actors. Pickard and Jennings both had performances to be proud of, and I enjoyed the guest appearance of director Tidmarsh’s chaotic ballet, as well as Wood’s continuous moping attitude displayed in several of the sketches. Some of my favourite skits of the second segment included an interaction between Chua and Jennings, in which a simple greeting of finger guns erupted into an electrified battle (I especially liked Hazell’s Terminator-like movements as he fell to the floor) as well as the Name that Lasagne! quiz show, culminating in Renshaw-Hammond and Woods cannibalizing the host (because his last name is Lasagne, of course!). 

Throughout the show, a projector and display board were periodically used to cut to the “Oxford Perspectives” pre-recorded skit, where Oxford Revue members not included in A Room with Revue unseriously answered questions about their favourite Oxford traditions or beliefs, including one non-student who is continuously pestered despite his pleas that he just wants to be on time to his job at PC World. The pre-recorded skits were dispersed nicely – neither overused nor depended on. 

There was a lot of variety present in this showcase, and I appreciated that they didn’t solely rely on college events or Oxford-centered scenarios as I have seen in other Oxford comedy shows. From utilizing audience participation (although, if I was asked what 34,000 divided by two was on the spot, I think I too would be too flustered to respond correctly) to actual laugh-out-loud line delivery, the Oxford Revue: A Room with Revue was a great performance, and I would gladly go to see another of their sets.

Image Credit: Oxford Revue