By Nina Newcombe and Emily George
Upon entering the theatre, we were each handed a single uninflated red balloon. Intrigued and confused, we wondered: what should we do, do we prematurely blow? It was a nice touch nestled amongst many others, from robots to sexy Mario and a rain of orange juice, that made up The Arts Revue: Sun Tsu’s Arts of War. Directed by power duo Alexander Richmond and Victoria Zerbst, it was clear that a lot of care, heart and soul had gone into the show. With a hiccup and a slow start to the first act, some sketches seemed under-rehearsed, particularly the musical numbers, whilst some jokes were overworked and drawn out. We had hoped for a happy medium.
An immediate uptake in the mood was introduced by Elliot Miller, one of the show’s standouts, whose comedic timing and slapstick expressions were a perfect contribution. His Bugle performance will be forever etched in Arts Revue history, leaving the audience in stitches and humming the Last Post well into the next week. From this point on it was clear this was a revue that would recover. Starting with the segway into transmission, 99 Luftballons gave purpose to the red balloons we had been clutching tightly in our hands. The second act proved sharper, more polished and generally the actors seemed more comfortable on stage. Though a couple of sketches left us shaking our heads and wondering why (spraying orange juice all over the stage didn’t seem to offer enough comedic reaction for it to be worth the clean up), and various jokes bordered on the insensitive. The costumes and set design, however, were handcrafted and simple, transporting the audience in a quaint, effortless manner.
Though individual sketches and actors added humour, light and enjoyment, overall the show felt as though it lacked a solid recurring message, theme or storyline. We felt as though it started off a little flat, but definitely came together throughout the second act, providing moments of light-heartedness, with satirical takes on serious issues of feminism and war that got the audience thinking. It definitely was the revue that recovered.