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Emily Godbold digests Bristol Revunions and Friends, a fabulous evening of sketch comedy courtesy of the Bristol Revunions, Leeds Tealights and the Cambridge Footlights. 

In an evening of light-hearted, fast-paced theatrical comedy, three of the country’s biggest university sketch groups graced the stage of the Anson Rooms, as the Bristol Revunions were joined by the Leeds Tealights and the Cambridge Footlights. Each group contributed their own unique dynamic to the performance which, collectively, made for a wonderfully fresh show of comedic diversity.

The night commenced with an introduction from the show’s charming and self-deprecating host, whose mistaking of the official photographer for a disinterested audience member on their phone set the comic tone from the outset. In a bizarre vegetarian and vegan edition of ‘would you rather’, it also transpired that 100% of habitually non-carnivorous audience members would in fact eat a bacon sarnie if it meant Donald Trump would be removed from office.

There were sketches to suit every sense of humour, performed by exceptionally talented actors, whose creative efforts were thoroughly recognised

The Leeds Tealights were first to perform, and proved themselves a true spectacle to behold; their impressively polished choreography, coupled with their clever and hilarious subversion of seemingly familiar scenarios, made for some of the most accomplished student comedy I have yet experienced.

A bizarre sketch in which Uber seems to have extended its services to outer space was a particular highlight; as one passenger falls viciously ‘space-sick’, his friend waves around a mimed plastic bag in a frantic attempt to catch the flying vomit, and anyone who has ever had to be that friend, is reminded that things could always have been worse: there could have been zero-gravity.

The lovely bunch that make up the Leeds Tealights

Although the sketches were stand-alone, the Tealights’ performance was seamlessly cohesive as a whole due to the carefully constructed thematic strands that ran throughout, such as their renditions of various well-known television ads. One such was a hilarious take on the ‘You wouldn’t steal a…’ piracy deterrent of our adolescence, in which ‘car’, ‘handbag’ and ‘TV’ were replaced by the likes of a ‘Frenchman’s pain au chocolat’ and ‘your cousin’s virginity’. Judging by the number of laughs this drew, it is fair to say that political incorrectness is, and perhaps always will be, the way to a student audience’s heart.

[A]bsence of elaborate props and over-the-top staging created a sense of informality between cast and audience […] apparent in the overwhelmingly positive response

From start to finish, the four-man, one-woman cast from Leeds were as casually cool and coordinated as the matching maroon shirts they were wearing.

Next up were the Cambridge Footlights—the group of course boast notable alumni including Emma Thompson, Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry—whose fresh talent certainly did not disappoint the legacy of this renowned student drama establishment.

Come on, you weren’t really doing much work today—you may as well just sit back and watch some top-drawer sketch comedy instead…

All three groups adopted a minimalistic approach, using hardly any props and small casts, but the Footlights in particular proved just how effective an intimate cast, that relies solely on its members’ abundant wit and raw talent, can be. The absence of elaborate props and over-the-top staging created a sense of informality between cast and audience that was apparent in the audience’s overwhelmingly positive response.

Their funniest moments included one character’s conviction that ‘heads or coin rim’ was a standardised method of decision-making, a messiah who claimed he could perform any godly miracle with a ‘simple touch of the dick’, and an actor who gets an unfortunately timed erection, quite literally ‘penetrating the narrative of the sketch’ to the dismay of his co-stars.

Headlining the show, but by no means upstaging its supporting acts, were the Bristol Revunions, whose slick execution of seemingly abstract and ridiculous themes played upon audience expectation and maintained a welcome stream of spontaneity—the group make the most of their home advantage in the Anson Rooms.

The Parish Council Meeting, an oldie but a goodie from the Bristol Revunions…

Capitalising upon its cast’s unique array of talents, their strongest comedic moments were perhaps rooted in their personification of inanimate objects: namely, an outdated hand dryer with a permanently sore throat, who gets upstaged by a showy Dyson Airblade, and a house that runs away, becoming a person with the same name as its address.

The characteristic absurdity of their topical matter made the sketches performed by the Revunions completely unpredictable, keeping the audience engaged and enthused.

A wonderfully diverse display of home-grown student comedy, Bristol Revunions and Friends was a splendidly entertaining evening in its entirety. There were sketches to suit every sense of humour, performed by exceptionally talented actors, whose creative efforts were thoroughly recognised. The future is bright…and funny.


Which punchlines really tickled you during the evening? Who will be the university sketch group to watch out for at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter @EpigramArts

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