By Sofya Grebenkina
It’s been a huge year for the Durham Revue 2015/2016 troupe, both at home in Durham and away at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. With their signature sketch comedy show ‘Gigglebox’ they’ve proved time and again that they deserve all the positive reviews that they’ve acquired over the year. And even though, as Ambika Mod says, the ‘audiences are much less forgiving in Edinburgh’, their talent is undeniable. Most recently, at the Edinburgh Fringe, they won the Derek Award for Best Sketch Show.
As their farewell, Abbie Weinstock promises that the last show will have only the ‘highest quality material’ and Ambika Mod agrees, saying that the sketches are a ‘culmination of a year’s work’ and so have been perfected over time. Alison Middleton confirms that now that they’re ‘comfortable with the content’, they’ve ‘essentially ditched anything that’s ever bombed and have finely tuned the funnies so it’s basically as slick as it’s ever going to be’.
And now that they’ve performed for different types of audiences in different cities they can tell with some certainty which sketches the Durham crowd favours. Luke Maskell thinks that the sketches ‘involving the weather and/ or albino Labradors’ will garner the most laughs while Weinstock argues that it can be hit and miss, ‘depending on the audience, poo jokes or advanced political satire.’
Each member has their own idea of which sketch they find funniest, with Andrew Shires citing the sketch ‘Exam’ as his favourite, while Tom Harper says that he prefers ‘The Mona Lisa’. To make these sketches, they’ve all pitched in with their own thoughts about what humour is to them. Weinstock says that she likes ‘sketches with good beginnings, middles and crucially, punchlines. I have a preference for something based on observation that’s been edited really well in its sketch form.’ Maskell adds, that what he likes is ‘turning something recognisable on its head’, while Shires ambiguously states that it’s ‘jokes’. It is certain that their upcoming show will most definitely be a combination of their philosophies on humour.
Maskell light-heartedly suggests that what he’ll be taking away from the Revue is, ‘a lovely tight softshell jacket that says ‘DURHAM REVUE’ in big enough letters to remind everyone I can be funny before I have to bother with making jokes.’ Yet if considered seriously, all of them agree, as in the words of Shires, that what they will be taking away from this experience is their delight in ‘working together with a strong team dynamic’.
Despite this being the last show under ‘The Durham Revue’ banner, they’re excited for their future as a troupe. As their next ventures there is the serious ambition, according to Weinstock, to develop what they have already achieved, ‘just working on making a bigger name for ourselves at the Fringe and within Durham’. Hopefully this can be combined with the desires of the other members of the group, as Harper says they should ‘travel around in a colourful van, solving mysteries’ and Middleton has even greater ambitions that they should ‘boldly go where no sketch comedy troupe has gone before. Moon 2k17.’ The only hope is that they sometimes take a break from their adventures in space to grace us with another Returners’ performance back here on Earth.
Catch ‘The Durham Revue: Returners’ Show’ at The Assembly Rooms Theatre on Thursday the 13th of October at 20:00 p.m. Buy your tickets here.
Photograph: Derek Awards Edinburgh Fringe