Christmas came early last night in the Simpkins Lee theatre, delivered in all its sleigh bell goodness by the Oxford Revue at the top of their game. My previous experiences of the Revue in the sweatbox that is the Wheatsheaf had given me high hopes for the evening, but this Christmas stocking of comedy went above and beyond my expectations. The performers seemed to revel in the freedom of the larger space and longer time slot, imbuing the evening with an infectious absurdity that had the audience spellbound throughout.
The show’s greatest strength lay in its variety, blending classic stand-up routines with Wogan-infused radio plays alongside moments of the absolutely surreal (without going into too much detail, I never thought I’d see that much human hair grace the stage of Oxford’s finest comedy troupe). The range of sketches was an admirable achievement in a show that has presumably been put together in a very short space of time, and it was testament to the professionalism of the performers that it came off as a cohesive, and at times almost slick, production – though, granted, professional does feel an odd choice of word to use of a show combining postman-based erotic fiction with a Tinder-inspired rock opera.
The Revue played to their strengths, alternating longer sketches and running gags with short and surreal set-pieces that managed to get their audience crying with laughter at the pure ludicrousness of what was going on. The combination of styles meant there was never a real lull in laughter or moment when you found yourself wishing for a sketch to just wrap itself up and end. If there were nerves, the Revue certainly didn’t show it; their breezy confidence meant the audience (when they weren’t desperately trying to avoid being picked on) were eating out of the palm of their hand.
To avoid sounding too sycophantic, I will admit that there were moments of imperfection among the brilliance. There were slight technical issues towards the end and a sketch about the pint of milk was, ironically, wrong about the price of milk (or am I missing the irony?). However, these were eclipsed by its much greater strengths. I genuinely can’t emphasis enough how much this show made me laugh, something I’m all too grateful for as a work-heavy 6th week hobbles to its close; despite the lack of the rumoured mulled wine and mince pies – I still want answers – the Oxford Revue’s Christmas Party proved itself to be an unmissable night of student comedy.