North of the Wall review: “a very entertaining evening”

By Marie Louise

On the back of successful shows with the Oxford Revue and Cambridge Footlights earlier this year, The Durham Revue invite the Leeds Tealights and St. Andrew’s Revue to their show ‘North of the Wall’ at the Assembly Rooms Theatre. We are promised “comedy at its most Cooplands”, and much like a Cooplands, this show does indeed hold something for everyone.

The Leeds Tealights, a troupe of six, take to the stage first. Their setlist is overall incredibly creative and well-presented, ranging from parodies of modern life, be it women or footballers, to the most dramatic poetry reading a primary school has ever had the honour to witness. Their sketches are well-balanced and timed, and their setlist keeps the audience engaged.

The St. Andrew’s Revue introduce themselves with a small stand-up inspired routine that quickly gets the audience on their side. Offering a different style to that of the polished performances of the Leeds Tealights, The St. Andrew’s Revue present themselves far more casually as friends of the audience. Their sketches are, on the whole, longer, introducing new twists whenever a resolution is in sight. This proves to be a successful strategy, as their characters consistently induce laughter. The crowd favourite is their breaking of the fourth wall in a sketch about a nature documentary. The St. Andrew’s Revue are clearly a well-oiled team and feel comfortable on stage. They even include some audience interaction in their set, and show incredible variety in style and approach to their sketches.

The Durham Revue stay true to their style of sketch comedy – fast, loud and reminiscent of an acid trip. However, this is by no means a bad thing. The Durham troupe produce a plethora of incredibly funny sketches. Particular highlights include the automated 999 response-line sketch, a J.K. Rowling press conference, and the most non-sequitur-filled goodnight story I have ever had someone read to me with a ukulele. Out of the three troupes, The Durham Revue perform with the highest levels of energy. That said, in the second half of their set, the audience lose enthusiasm as some of their sketches fall flat. Overall, however, their sketches are a success and make for a very entertaining evening.

The three troupes compliment each other’s styles nicely. The running order is well-organised; moving from the near-professional, polished Tealights performance to the more relaxed and longer skits of the St. Andrew’s Revue, and finally to the quick-fire sketches of the hosts. The Durham performers convince with the evident range of physicality assigned to their characters. Where Durham excel in physical comedy, the Leeds performers shine in vocal delivery and neat staging, while St. Andrew’s must be commended for building a strong rapport with the audience.

‘North of the Wall’ is a well-coordinated show, and all three troupes clearly bring their best battle-gear. It is perhaps Leeds’ advertisement sketch which best sums up the show: the ‘thing’ the troupe are trying to sell to the audience is comedy, and, after a stressful month of exams, this is exactly what everybody needs.

Photography: The Durham Revue

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