Writer: The Oxford Revue
Reviewer: Fergus Morgan
The Oxford Revue’s 2015 Edinburgh Fringe show was among the funniest hours you could spend at the festival. It was surprising, intelligent, cohesive, polished and hilarious. Their 2016 effort,Hello You, starring Georgia Bruce and Jack Chisnall, is almost as good. But not quite.
“We’re not really comedians”, the pair confess at one point, “we’re actors playing comedians.” The line is part of a running gag about the performers’ true identity – they’re variously student comedians, pretentious actors, hapless tourists from Barnsley, and aliens – but it feels like there is a morsel of truth in it. This is meta-comedy. It’s a sketch show sodden in irony.
But it’s fairly funny all the same. From an early meeting between JK Rowling and her publishers (“I just think we should make Ron Harry’s friend, rather than his tennis coach”), to an exaggerated parody of X Factor, this is standard sketch show fare: witty, original and universally relatable.
The flipside to using such slick, scripted material, though, is thatHello Youlacks spontaneity. It feels about as dangerous as a Michael McIntyre set, as edgy as a Russell Howard gig. It’s confident, assured, smart, but entirely devoid of topical bite. It’s tame. It’s tepid.
Oxbridge’s comedic tradition stretches back five decades, to Bennett, Cook, Miller, Moore and the ground-breakingBeyond The Fringe. Times have changed, of course, and the mantle for savage political satire has moved elsewhere. For many years, The Oxford Revue have been high-class purveyors of ironic, observational silliness instead.
And, when done exceptionally well, that’s fine. When only done passably well, as withHello You, one begins to wish for something riskier, something bolder, something more topical. God knows, there’s enough raw material out there.
Runs until: Monday 29August 2016 (not 15)