By Hannah Nepil
A worrying property of sketch shows is their boundless potential for embarrassment, which at times can reach astonishing proportions. The electric effect of a successful sketch can be flattened with one puny joke and the scene sent reeling like a deflating balloon. There are those who derive some kind of adrenaline kick out of these high risk situations and who, on viewing the title “FEAR” sprawled across the Oxford Revue's programme at the OFS this week, might believe they had cause for celebration.
Happily the ominous tone set by this title jarred with the content of the production itself, whose sophisticated writing, direction and acting dismissed all anxieties. The show boasted an innovative platter of surreal satire. Particularly memorable was the exchange between Harry Potter and a copiously hairy Dumbledore, whose tresses alone rendered him a rather woolly miracle of wizardry. The players themselves fell prey to their own mockery, the scene-changes were punctuated by growls of “think that was funny, do you?” and the half-hearted tinkling of a pianist so apathetic that he practically dripped on-stage. Apparently he could not muster the energy to drip back off again, and proceeded to serve as a stony and somewhat inexplicable backdrop to the subsequent drama.
The breadth of styles covered was vast. In West End Diva, Grace Ang-Lygate's considerable talents were showcased. She managed to sing and prance superbly across the stage whilst milking her humorous lines to their full capacity. Michael Docherty, whose “guitar-accompanied comic ditties have been praised by two members of his family” can now congratulate himself on a more substantial following. The cult of the ballet-dancing sperm however provided one of the highlights of the affair, especially when confronted with a hula-hooping egg. The acting was equally varied. Keiran Hodgson and Natalie Dibsdale's versatility and charisma particularly stood out and when the entire cast joined together they did so with absolute cohesion. Some of the scenes could have benefited from further development of the highly comical material whilst parts of the less successful sketches could have been weeded out. Yet, after such a wacky high-energy production, fiercely executed by an outstanding cast, the overwhelming urge was simply to enjoy it.