Eleanor Gunn raves about The Durham Revue’s Shenanigans, as the 2013/14 group bid farewell to their favourite sketches.
Having not seen the Durham Revue since January, I was extremely excited about seeing the last show from the 2013-14 group, endearingly entitled ‘Shenanigans’.
Combining stellar acting with comedic brilliance, and topping it off with some snazzy braces, excellent rosé lighting and ‘those’ chairs, it was an evening of giggles not to be missed. It certainly reinforced their already impressive reputation as part of Durham’s ever-growing comedy scene.
Comprising of Elgan Alderman, Sam Kennerley, Simon Gallow, David Knowles, Charlotte Whistlecroft and Abigail Weinstock, they are a tight knit group with excellent chemistry, whose repertoire is wide ranging, always funny, and frequently verging on the hilarious (that Frosties scene…).
Though only an hour long, they certainly packed a lot in – one-liners, alternative movie trailers, observational comedy and surreal sketches, – and I, for one, was left feeling like I’d been run over by a comedy steamroller (in a good way.) Personal favourites included the car radio sketch, mining for comedy gold, mastermind and the lion king scene, plus all the one-liners (especially the one liner one).
All the Revue members are strong, but special praise has to go to Gallow for his energy: jumping, shouting – everything he did, whether the lights were up or not, radiated an exuberance that was infectious. Though he was often the main culprit for onstage laughter, it simply made the scenes funnier, and created a good rapport between audience and performers, as we realised, cheesy as it sounds, that we were all having fun together.
Alderman, as ever, is a comic genius and a joy to watch, and Kennerley ( in particular his wonderfully deep radio four voice) is a great asset to the group.
Whistlecroft and Weinstock both have great range as actresses, amply showcased in their ‘good cop, bad cop’ scene, and are flying the flag high for women in comedy: Weinstock’s facial expressions are, in particular, outstanding, as is Whistlecroft’s singing.
Knowles completes the group, and his hilariously panicked Rafiki set the bar at a level rarely reached in the first seconds of comedy shows. I will never again watch the Lion King in the same way.
One of my favourite things about the show (weird as it might sound) was the scene changes. This was not because I was overjoyed to find I had reached the end of any sketch (far from it) but because they were done with such panache.
Each actor was committed to travelling around the stage with great energy and determination, even in the semi-darkness, and their persistent return of the chairs to the back of the stage, even when they used them in the next scene, created a sense of tightly controlled method which was at times reassuring amidst all the comedy madness.
Changes were slick, and the music that blasted out as they ran on and off stage kept the atmosphere electric.
Their use of self-referential metatheatre (‘Let’s do “Mrs Patmore and the Ferrets”’), as well as the series of similar sketches (the lads and the heirs, and Gallow and Kennerley’s recognition scenes) also helped to give ‘Shenanigans’ an identity in itself, and further set it apart from other sketch shows.
The variety of formats of sketch and technology used was also exciting (congratulations to the tech team for a flawless performance), with their use of alternative endings, spotlights, voice overs and wigs combining to make this show a huge success.
You doubt me? Just ask the audience, who clapped for so long the Revue were forced to come back on for a second bow.
Photograph: Charlotte Whistlecroft
The Durham Revue will be auditioning for new members on the following dates:
Tuesday 28th October 7:00pm-9:00pm ER A79 & Thursday 30th October 7:00pm-9:00pm ER 204
Callbacks: Tuesday 4th November 6:30pm-9:00pm ER A79 & Friday, 7 November (6:30pm – 9:00pm) ER A78