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May, 2003
Review: Oxford Student Comedy
Oxford Student Revue
Fine actors in the Oxford Student Comedy
A bizarre mix of best and worst skits and comedy sketches were in store for Harriet Mancey-Barratt when she reviewed the Oxford Student Revue at the Oxford Playhouse.


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By Harriet Mancey-Barratt

Apparently, The Oxford Student Revue is the equivalent to a pick-and-mix bag containing the finest fizzy cola bottles alongside some mouldy cabbage.

I was expecting to find a solid set of comedians equivalent to, say, the mediocre humbug, but The Student Comedy Revue at the Oxford Playhouse turned out to be a bizarre mix of the best - and unfortunately the worst - laughs in town.

The show opened with a jubilant compere, James Wilton who was sharp yet at ease. The audience, most probably haunted by the same fears of 'amateur stand-up' as I had been, visibly perked up.

Actor in Oxford Student Revue
The Oxford Student Revue

The opening comics, from Cambridge Footlights and The Oxford Comedy Society, were on the stage of the Oxford Playhouse for a reason.

They were generally able to keep us sniggering while coping with hecklers (although the jokes about PMT from one nervous character were met with some very stony female faces).

However, the sketches by Not The Oxford Revue were remarkable - well-observed, brilliantly executed and, most importantly, very, very funny.

There was an interesting shift in comic medium that guaranteed to keep the audience's attention - quick-paced live dialogue cut to pre-recorded film footage which was followed by, for example, the soliloquy of a giant pea.

The most effective were the short but clever skits, like the bemusement of a man idly spitting in the street when faced with an enthusiastic passer-by's totally believable 'No, that's lovely, really really nice, wow! Can you do that again?'

The success lay in the ability to observe common topics such as first-date embarrassment with originality, confidence and great wit.

Comedy-lovers would be well advised to check out the Not The Oxford Revue's full show, 'Sometimes I Enjoy Laughing', on at Oxford's Burton Taylor Theatre during the week of June 2 as we were comedy putty in their hands.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for The Oxford Revue's new show 'The Lost Laugh'. At best, the effect was one of pseudo-intellectual density; at worst, pure tedium.

Sadly, the biggest laughs of the whole play were gained when, with every scene change, an increasing number of desperate figures could be seen scurrying through the darkness to the haven of the exit.

While there were many good cast performances, the script proved rarely refreshing and often obscure. Long scenes and cryptic plot links didn't help matters.

While the evident attempt to produce a modern 'comedy of manners' can be admired, the only real point to make is that 'The Lost Laugh' did indeed lose any sense of comedy, the plot and, crucially, their audience.

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