“Some of the best sketch comedy you are guaranteed to get at the Fringe this year…
Having shamefully been unable to catch any performances of The Durham Revue during my three years at Durham, I can safely safe that I have very much been missing out. It is very worth the hype. A tongue-in-cheek University sketch comedy group with a long history of living up to do, The Durham Revue stylishly fill their hour slot with endless laughs. The scripts drip with sarcastic wit, and the troupe bring a ferocious whirlwind of energy to their characterisations and jokes that is highly admirable for an early afternoon slot.
The group introductions make for an icebreaker beginning that has the packed-out audience immediately on-side. Each performer brings something else to the table, unafraid to self-depreciate and poke fun at themselves and each other. Whether you are seeing them for the first time or you’re a regular to their sketch comedy nights, ‘The Durham Revue’ bring a playful excitement to what is about to begin and keep up the momentum throughout. Perhaps the main premise of the murder-mystery theme is a bit lost on us and provides some of the weaker laughter from the room, but the bulk of their writing brims with cutting, dark, and hilariously rude one-liners and puns that make you feel embarrassed to have caught you off-guard. Some highlights include the pot-plant sketch and a very interactive rendition of ‘Old MacDonald Had a Farm’. It’s immediately clear that The Revue know how to work a Fringe crowd.
‘Death on the Mile’ is a riotously quick-witted and fun-filled show that plays off the troupe’s strengths and foibles through high-energy and macabre sketches. From a homicidal Peppa Pig (played by the frighteningly convincing Tansy Adams) to some very lethal Chuckle Brothers (played by Henry Gwilliam and Teilo Rees), the sketches bounce from one to the next problem-free. With all sketch comedy, some parts do bring the laughs more than others, but any not-quite spot on punchlines are swiftly cut off with aptly fitting dancing during scene transitions. These are made funnier by the morbid twist a sketch takes immediately after the troupe dances vigorously to an upbeat pop tune (or a musical interlude taken from ‘Lazy Town’). Some of the less explosive sketches are quickly shaken off by the team who catapult into the next whimsical scenario and are fine to call back to the more forgettable and pun-heavy of their sketches (looking at you, William the ‘Conker’-er). Some jokes do feel flung in, but the nature of student sketch comedy is that sometimes you must try and see what sticks – and once The Revue do, they are flying.
Clearly, I’ve caught The Durham Revue on a good day; their reputation proceeds them, and so it should. Admittedly, I find the genre quite hit or miss, and even The Revue themselves are quick to make light of it. It’s often so easily gimmicky and cringeworthy, but with ‘Death of the Mile’ there is none of that. It’s an oversaturated genre, but this has sincerely been the most I’ve laughed from a Sketch Comedy show, possibly ever. There is no doubt that this is some of the best sketch comedy you are guaranteed to get at the Fringe this year.
By Molly Knox
The Durham Revue will continue to perform their Edinburgh Fringe run of “Death on the Mile” at 14:30 in V61 – Underbelly Cowgate from the 18th to the 27th of August.
Photo Credits: The Durham Revue