“Now That’s What I Call… The Durham Revue”, 50 years of sketch-comedy.

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A live hypnotisation, a new side to Scooby-Doo and the true identity of Banksy. 

These offer just a glimpse of what’s in store for the new show by The Durham Revue, performing at Gala Theatre on 25th May. The show will mark the 50th anniversary of Durham University’s sketch-comedy troupe. This week I was fortunate enough to chat with Teagan Booker, Jack Simmonds, Alannah O’Hare and about all things Revue and, specifically, their upcoming 50th anniversary show which promises to “amp up the silly.”

For those who don’t know, the sketch-comedy troupe work together throughout the academic year performing in Durham and at the Edinburgh Fringe over the summer. With this year being the big 5-0, Jack and Teagan have organised a one-off show involving some of the alumni from the Revue troupes of times gone by. As such Jack calls it “a Revue show the people of Durham will never have seen before” – or his alternative, off-the-cuff pitch: “Now That’s What I Call… The Durham Revue,” which I was a big fan of.

A lot of work has gone into organising this show involving not just the current troupe but previous members. Co-presidents, Teagan and Jack, have said much of rehearsal has been conducted over Zoom so far but they are looking forward to the ‘chaos’ (in the best possible sense of the word) that will ensue “bringing all these funny people together.”

As well as performing it should be noted that everything is student-written also. Jack describes this as an “iterative process” in the way sketches go through many edits which are “highly collaborative.” Teagan describes how the troupe become ‘so comfortable with each other so quickly’ which is so important considering the “vulnerability” it takes to share sketches that are, according to the two, “awful.” In fact, Teagan reflects on one of their earliest troupe meetings this year being spent going through some of the most “dodgy” pitches of the previous year. There is something about waving off the worry of being bad, in such a welcoming environment that fuels the magic in the troupe. Jack points out how the troupe spans 2nd to 7th year allowing for the breaking down of barriers between years.

their upcoming 50th anniversary show… promises to “amp up the silly”

Jack simmonds

With this being the 50th year of The we also discussed the legacy attached to the name, the legacy the people sitting before me in the SU were now a part of. Among their most impressive alumni is Ambika Mod, who recently graced our screens in the hit Netflix show ‘One Day’, as well as stand-up comedians Nish Kumar and Ed Gamble. Teagan spoke candidly about the “huge privilege” she felt. Jack also called it a “surreal” feeling but also spoke about the pressure to make their mark, especially in this anniversary year.

That being said, the co-presidents had enormous praise for their troupe, admiring the attitude of their performers who are “game for anything.” An example of this was a previous show this year where they spent a week teaching Jack to “heely” for a 5 second gag to open the show. Personally, I’m obsessed. Regardless of the brand, it is the people that make the troupe what it is and each year’s writers and performers bring their own flair and style. Teagan and Jack fondly discuss the physicality and props this year’s troupe have been leaning into which has been a breath of fresh air for The Revue. 

Speaking to Alannah and Bea, 2 writer-performers new to the troupe this year, this was so important for “finding their own dynamic.” Alannah loved that there was “no comparison to last year[‘s troupe].” After all, it goes back to the implicit trust that shapes their dynamic as a troupe.

I was able to witness how well the group gelled as they bounced off each other in the room creating ‘bits’ about the multiple functions of their suspenders – I’ve learnt they are so much more than an ode to 2010s fashion!

“a Revue show the people of Durham will never have seen before”

Jack simmonds

All of them are thrilled to be rounding off the academic year on their “home turf” and implore everyone to come and enjoy the silliness. According to Alannah it’s “quick-fire, snappy” and there’s “something for everyone.” Trading up the well-known “live, love, laugh” for a very on-brand “laugh, laugh, laugh” (frame that in your mother’s bathroom), the people of Durham are in for a treat and “you’d be silly to let it pass you by.”

The 50th Anniversary ‘All Stars’ show will be performing for one night only on 25th May at 8pm in the Gala Theatre.

 Tickets can be purchased through the Gala website (linked here), through their facebook and through the link in their Instagram bio which is linked here

A good portion of tickets have sold already so the troupe urge people to get them while they still can!

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