REVIEW: The Void

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Sydney Uni Revue — The Void

by Esther Shim

The heart and soul of the Sydney Uni Revue has and always will be the university students who bring the production to life. The show historically brings together the best sketches and cast members of the past years’ revue season to recreate and reinvent; a corroboration of the best of the best.

This production is unique because it gives these university students an opportunity to develop as comics and performers and gives them a platform to perform in a space which that ups the stakes.

A bigger budget. A bigger theatre. A professional director.

Directed by the accomplished Kate Walder and her assistant, a seasoned revuer, Jestika Chand, the 2019 Sydney Uni Revue: The Void, entered uncharted territory.

Throughout the course of the show, the through line of ‘The Void’ was cleverly weaved through the show.The production value of the show was impressive, all feeding back into the through line. The costuming was immaculate, marketing material was eye-catching, sound effects were timely and the set design, although simple, all pointed to the emptiness of The Void.

While the set was sparse, the audience never felt alone. Every single member of the cast brought an enthusiasm and energy onto the stage that filled out the entire York Theatre, including Rachael Colquhoun-Fairweather’s ability to escalate a sketch about telling a patient they have cancer, Jayce Carrano expressing regret at rejecting law clerkship applications, Donna Rohani as a fortune cookie priest and Haydn Hickson’s dancing and rapping skills in ‘Eat the Rich’.

While the transitions between the sketches attempted to pave a clear narrative for the throughline, much of the time it ended up taking away from the time a joke had to land or by prematurely giving away the punchline.

Previously hilarious sketches from former revues felt like they were reworked for the sole purpose of fitting into the through line. We never find out what happens between Alex and Jess (played with chemistry that is electric by Remy Keldoulis and Alison Cooper) on their school radio channel but instead they are used to move into the the last quarter of the show that traverses into something much more confusing.

The scene with opening and closing doors goes on for far too long and a musical number sung by dogs, Eliott Ulm and Ruby Blinkhorn, is haphazardly placed in-between the fake ending and real ending, with the ultimate result detracting from what could have been a powerful ending to the show.

Many of the limitations of the show were out of the control of the cast. The absence of an Acknowledgement of Country during the opening night, the lack of diversity in the cast that does not reflect the diversity of the people in the revue scene on campus, and the imbalanced casting of sketches, which meant that many members of the cast were underutilized, all point to structural problems that must be addressed in the future as an accessible university production.

All in all, the show felt like it was missing the soul and charm of what makes Sydney Uni Revues so special. The incredibly talented cast and production team performed with integrity, brought energy and enthusiasm to the stage but were let down by creative risks that traded in the soul of student theatre for some swinging doors.