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The Oxford Revue - Prattle Royale
Published on Tuesday, 21 August 2012
3

3 stars

Underbelly, Cowgate (venue website)
Comedy
2-14, 16-26 Aug, 4:00pm-5:00pm
Reviewed by Andy Frain

 Parents or guardians should consider the content of this show if children are attending.

You know the format. A large group of middle class twenty-somethings with questionable haircuts perform a series of sketches. As is so often the case with such things, the result is mixed, but with bags of potential.

The sketches vary in length, with some essentially just being set ups for one liners and others lasting several minutes. In general, this approach works well, with no pacing issues at all, but it does mean that the show can at times lack cohesion, with the constant jumping to new skit.

The material in the sketches ranges from the brilliant to the average, with particular highlights being the quirky one-liner sketches, which are the right side of ‘off the wall’ humour. The longer sketches are more inconsistent, with many very funny ones suffering from poor endings.  This was the only real sign of any lack of maturity in the writing throughout the show, with many endings feeling rushed, as if the writers weren’t really sure how to end it.

As performers, the troupe cannot be faulted, showing an impressive versatility across the cast ranging from physical slapstick to more deadpan humour (the pigeon rebellion sketch being a particularly excellent example). It’s often the case with such ensembles that some jokes simply don’t work outside of the Oxbridge sphere, but to the group’s credit this is rarely an issue in this performance. 

But what is clear is that these performers are still young. You can imagine them meeting and having endless ideas, and this constant flurry means some sketches end up trying to cram too much in. Furthermore, it is strange that given such a large cast, a group of two or three performers seem ever-present in every sketch.

The Oxford Revue this year is far from ground-breaking, but there seems sufficient potential in the sketches for them to become a decent group of comics. Unfortunately, given the illustrious nature of their predecessors in this role, it felt disappointing coming out of the show and thinking it was only an average performance. Solid but unspectacular, they struggle to live up to their billing.

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FROM OUR ARCHIVES

These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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