“an atmosphere of almost boundless energy, charisma, and charm”

For its London debut, the Durham Revue came to complete some Unfinished Business – namely, leaving audiences in fits of hysterics, fuelled by wordplay, politically incorrect humour, and dark jokes. From the opening, the troupe set the tone of its high-energy routine. The way the members bounced off one another, fine-tuning their comedic timing and communication, created an atmosphere of almost boundless energy, charisma, and charm.

In typical Revue style, the troupe, 5-strong this time, donned their usual uniform and basic staging, using only chairs as props, to really bring the focus to the members themselves. And it worked. On top of the slick transitions this enabled, it really brought attention to the characterisation of each sketch, and eliminated distraction from the individuals. 

Yet something must be said for the power of each individual performer. Charlie Nicholson and Daisy Hargreaves’ hysterical facial expressions, coupled with exquisite comedic timing, made for an excellent counterpoint to Thomas Mullan’s almost deadpan ability to deliver comically hilarious lines with complete sincerity. A particular highlight included an advert for an ‘existential crisis,’ where the sketch was delivered as though an advert for any banal object. And it clearly resonated with the young, student-filled audience… As for Lydia Cook, her ability to deliver contentious sketches with professionalism and emotion was captivating. Charlie Billingham’s ability to mock himself was equally impressive, however his real talent in this show lay in a certain politically incorrect running joke throughout. Despite their individual strengths, though, the team’s true power lies in their rapid timing, their bouncing off each other, and in their reliance on one another to make a room full of people laugh out loud. 

Attention to detail did not go amiss from the sound team – personal highlights included Snoop Dogg’s Drop it like it’s Hot being played after a scene involving an audience member and dropping a crying baby, as well as Imagine Dragons’ Demons after a sketch about a haunted house. Whilst this may not have been obvious, it added a subtle comedic factor which built upon the already intelligent humour of the group. Praise must also go to the team for the perfectly timed sound effects and voiceovers, which only contributed to the pace of the show. 

That is not to say the show was without fault. Whilst the sketches were well-rehearsed, with very few errors, certain sketches did not garner the same reaction from the audience, particularly in comparison to previous shows by the troupe. They seem to find solace in politically incorrect sketches, which left the audience in hysterics most of the time, perhaps at the expense of apolitical or optimistic humour. The sketches which didn’t involve themes such as death, communism, or cannibalism tended to fall a little flat, as did certain longer sketches. This didn’t detract from the overall atmosphere of the show, however, they did leave certain quiet moments amongst the audience, which were more noticeable in comparison to the fits of laughter heard often only two minutes later. 

Overall, the show was an absolute success. Taking on a new venue, audience, and city is no mean feat, and the extremely professional and experienced team of actor-comedians really grasped the opportunity and brought the best of Durham to the capital. 

By Erin Waks

Image credits: Durham Revue