The Oxford Revue in Desperate Liaisons

Tue 28th May – Sat 1st June 2013

reviews

Wyatt Miles

at 01:40 on 29th May 2013

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As I arrived for “Desperate Liasons,” I saw that the O'Reilly Theatre was well adapted for the event. Bleacher seating had been set up in the back with cantina-style tables in front—the feeling was intimate without being overcrowded. It felt like we were at Oxford's local comedy club, the red curtain, the single microphone, alcohol everywhere— the atmosphere was well crafted and creatively thought out. The performance began with the fast paced material of master of ceremonies Alex Fox. Fox kept the audience participating through a series of wild twists, losing us at times, yet rallying with a series of improvisational quips--delving in and out of the audience he even brought his father and mother into the act (they were seated in the upper bleachers) with a 'quiz,' based on his life. After this slight dip in connection, Fox saved himself by playfully interacting with the audience showing a comedic confidence that resembled the observational style of the great Don Rickles.

When the Buttless Chaps took the stage, the performance stepped up a level. Getting laughs from both the upper and lower areas of the audience, every member of the Chaps were ‘on,’ and each skit was executed with confidence and coordination. My favorite moments were during the first skit where Will Hislop sang a hilarious ballad about heartbreak and loss. He was accompanied by the rest of the Chaps, who appeared with maracas and a choreographed dance that made me laugh so much I could not take notes. The Buttless Chaps were creative and captivating, they had short musical transitions between skits which only made the audience eager for their return. The dynamic of their performance was well tempered—longer skits about witch-hunting and pornographic pizza men were followed by shorter pieces that allowed each member of the group to show off their talent. When Alex Fox re-entered to see them off and introduce the interlude I was sad to watch them go.

After the interlude the headlining act took the stage. I was slightly disappointed with the beginning of Oxford Revue’s act, it was difficult to follow the Buttless Chaps and it took the Revue ensemble a few skits to find their rhythm and establish their style. Once they got going I was won over. Rachel Watkeys-Dowie and George Mather performed in my favorite skit: they played an old English couple in bed, Rachel as the wife, frightened by a series of unfrightening dreams with George as her loving, problem-solving husband. Throughout the skit they called each other by the most ridiculous nicknames I have ever heard, (I think one of them was “pugmuffin?”) getting laughs in both sections of the audience. Mather's booming comforting voice accompanied by Rachel's worried tone produced an excellent contrast and made me remember why I enjoyed seeing the Revue perform.

Despite the occasional lull in laughter, the Oxford Revue's "Desperate Liaisons" was wonderfully successful and I recommend it to anyone in Oxford who appreciates burgeoning comedic power.

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