It might seem a little early to be beginning Christmas celebrations. Maybe even a little early to beginning Oxmas celebrations. Nonetheless, what the Oxford Revue Christmas Party will lack in its proximity to December 25th, it will more than make up for in festive spirit. There will be mulled wine, there will be Santa Claus, and what’s more, rumour has it that if you turn up in a Christmas jumper, you get a free mince pie! But Scrooges fear not, although there’s unquestionably a festive theme, the comedy will be free to roam as far from the Christmassy as it desires, and the sketches I watched featured everything from a scissor-happy hairdresser to an intense rendition of a GCSE Drama style piece about “fucking issues”.
Sitting in on a rehearsal for Friday’s show, it’s clear that even without all the extra festive fun, this would be a show not to be missed. There’s material that’s been tried and tested in front of audiences at earlier Revue events, but more than enough new stuff to reward hardened comedy fans. The performers have participated in this term’s Audreys — the Revue’s fortnightly comedy events at the Wheatsheaf — but the atmosphere for this event will be more like that of the Oxford Revue and Friends shows held at the Playhouse every Trinity. The larger venue will go some way to engineering this — the Simpkins Lee at LMH seats a lot more people a lot more comfortably than the cramped and humid conditions of the Wheatsheaf’s upper room — but there’s also a lot more performers than usual. Typical Revue shows might have four or five talented comic actors — this show has twelve, and boasts an impressive repertoire of this term’s new comedy writing in the form of sketches, songs, poetry and stand-up.
The show was still in the process of being put together at the rehearsal I attended, with some decisions yet to be made. In the short time I was there the momentous decisions to provide karaoke of Christmas hits was made — and I must admit I now feel somewhat culpable in the ultimate success or failure of this venture — and there’s every chance that more comedy and more festivity will be added to the entertainment that will be on offer on Friday and Saturday.
I’ve been placed under strict instructions to impress upon readers that the last five of the Revue’s shows completely sold out. They sold out. All five of them. All five. This is a testament to the quality of comedy on offer, but it’s also all the more reason to book early as waiting too long could mean missing out. It’s possible that demand for this show will be even higher than on previous occasions, given the excellent performances members of the Revue have given this term in a variety of productions, not all of them unremittingly comedic. In a quick glance around the room I recognised Tom Dowling, Jack Chisnall and Keiran Ahern from Henry V, Barney Fishwick, Will Hislop and Georgia Bruce from Jerusalem, and David Meredith from Dahling You Were Marvellous, but there are sure to be many more familiar faces for fans of Oxford drama and comedy.
When asked what audiences could expect from the show, Co-Presidents Fishwick and Hislop promised it would certainly be “an attempt at comedy”. The self-described “attempt” looks set to be an extremely successful one, and I would strongly recommend all fans of Christmas to get tickets and check it out for themselves. After all, their last five shows sold out.
The Oxford Revue’s Christmas show will be on at the Simpkins Lee Theatre, LMH on Friday and Saturday at 8pm.