Imogen Carr discusses the new work produced by Durham’s renowned sketch comedy troupe, The Durham Revue.

Walking into the Mark Hillery Arts Centre in Collingwood, the atmosphere was already electric. I was immediately impressed by the large crowd the renowned Durham Revue had drawn and with the knowledge that they had already sold out prior to opening night, my expectations were high. Having heard good things, I was still sceptical whether the sketch comedy troupe would be able to deliver original comedy that did not revolve around the “classic Durham” stereotypes. They did not disappoint.

As sirens sounded, the audience was immediately taken to a nuclear bunker. The subtle dramatic devices used to achieve this were extremely effective. After introducing themselves, the troupe went straight in to their first skit. Each sketch varied the number of people involved and their length which maintained the audience’s intrigue as each new skit was performed. Including a huge diversity of topics, every aspect of the show was entertaining and kept the audience gripped. The biggest strength of this performance lay in the relatability of its content, for which the writer should be highly commended. Mentions of Churchill, to Where’s Wally to car insurance, flowed effortlessly and integrated surprisingly well. Without fail, each sketch received a hearty applause as they ran off stage, highlighting the continuous high quality of comedy.

Particular highlights were the incredible musical talents displayed during the West Side Story sketch, a very insightful monologue by the infamous Noo-noo from the Teletubbies as well as X-treme Christmas (I had no idea I had been doing Christmas wrong all these years). The diversity of the topics covered really added to the comedy of the Durham Review’s show and its fresh take on relatable topics was extremely enjoyable to watch.  The impressive theatrical talents of each troupe member had many opportunities to be exhibited thanks to this vast variety of comedy. The ensemble cast was incredibly expressive with their vibrant body language and facial expressions which really cemented the impressive delivery of each skit.

It is honestly impossible to pick out just one standout performance as the troupe worked so well together and their high energy ensured the audience’s attention was captured from start to finish. Despite this, the work of William Allen and Hamish Llyod Barnes must be applauded for their high-energy and the contagious laughter they induced every time they stepped out on stage. With only the use of several chairs and the occasional prop, the show relied solely on the talent of each troupe member. Their impeccable comedic timing and excellent delivery ensured the success of each joke and contributed to what was a wonderful show of laughter and fun. Lines were occasionally lost by the laughter of the audience but could be easily resolved by waiting an extra second. This would have ensured every line was heard. The troupe should try and achieve this slight change as the level of comedic skill was already so high and seemed to be continuously on the rise, never beginning to plateaux.

The only thing linking the completely different sketches were the smooth transitions filled by classic throwback tunes and the troupe’s (at times questionable) dance moves. This kept the show light-hearted and the quick pace made these sudden changes of scene, characters and plot lines appear seamless.

The troupe continuously played off the audience’s reactions, showing real comedic skill and their interaction with the audience was extremely enjoyable to be a part of. These interactions with the audience were always received very well and met with many hearty laughs.

Deciding to spend my final hour on earth watching the Durham Revue was the best decision I’ve made all week and I strongly suggest everyone does the same.

Apocalypse… Now? will be playing at the Mark Hillery Arts Centre on Friday 25th January at 8pm.