‘One last night of raucous laughs, outrageous slapstick, and rapid-fire wit…
Saturday the 14th of October marked a very special evening at the Sir Thomas Allen Assembly Rooms Theatre, with the much-anticipated final show of the 2023 Death on the Mile by The Durham Revue. The troupe of actors gathered in Durham, “leaving behind their London jobs in retail and hospitality”, to provide one last night of raucous laughs, outrageous slapstick, and rapid-fire wit. If First Night gave star ratings, I’d give it five out of five!
The house was packed, with music blasting from the get-go. Then the lights dimmed and the bustling voices of the audience stilled. A bright spotlight fell onto the stage, illuminating the troupe of actors, who then began their comedy sketch. The group that brought you Ed Gamble and Nish Kumar are famous for their award-winning material – and tonight’s performance certainly lived up to the hype.
A tapestry of varied and dynamic set-piece sketches ensued. Each finely crafted sketch careened into the next with the fluidity of water and the power of a brewing storm. The lights rose and fell as the actors came and went. It was a joy to watch.
Expertly directed, the performance swept seamlessly through successive scenes, the laughter mounting as the pace increased. At one point of audience interaction, a brave audience member went up on stage and was asked to fill in animal sounds as an actress sang the tune of “Old MacDonald Had A Farm”. At another point two of the male actors evoked the Chuckle Brothers with calls of ‘To me… to you’ as they hopelessly hauled an oversized chair about the stage.
It is clear that a deep sense of farcical humour was in-built throughout. But there were also comedic allusions to contemporary events in politics and society, and this tongue-in-cheek commentary sat well with the other material insomuch as it drew attention to how ludicrous the human experience can be. This was comedy working at its highest, most subversive peak, unafraid to hold a mirror up to society’s darker side whilst still not taking itself too seriously.
Also notable about this performance was the dexterity of the production team. From sound to lighting, every technical aspect was delivered on time to enhance the comedic drive.
The Durham Revue has long been a training ground for aspiring comics, actors and performers, having produced some truly excellent and inspiring alumni. Clearly, they retain their illustrious reputation, at the cutting-edge of Durham’s arts and culture scene with this latest performance of Death on the Mile.
By Dan Bavister
Picture Credit: The Durham Revue