REVIEW: More Revelations
An imperfect but entertaining show that provides endless surprises, says Dani Cugini.
“And what’s going on with Slytherin? You can’t tell a bunch of 10-year-olds they’re fascists!”
More Revelations, the Pembroke Players’ sequel to last term’s Revelations, is an hour of quickfire sketch comedy based around, well, revelations: no joke is as it seems, punchlines turn the whole premise of sketches on their heads, and the performers don’t so much break the fourth wall as assault it with a sledgehammer, stand amongst the rubble and comment on the mess. Hogwarts is visited by Ofsted, Jesus Christ attends a Cambridge social, and an acupuncturist encounters a gunshot victim. The material is witty, diverse and always surprising, even if the cast does not always manage to realise the full potential of the writing.
The four-person cast of More Revelations gels together because of their differing comedic styles, and each performer (usually) transitions deftly between various roles and accents. The best sketches are mostly the result of this gelling: for instance, one sketch where Matt Gurtler‘s more animated style, careening around as a Seussian waiter or monologuing as Sauron through a hilarious therapy session, is undercut by the dry, impassive wit of Will Hall as he merely holds placards and raises the occasional eyebrow.
Jasmin Rees is to be commended for her consistently well-placed comic timing, while Christof Epaminondas, though a little wooden in the initial sketches, warmed up and impressed with his charisma and easy delivery in some of the later sketches. The performers in this show are all good, young comics with a wealth of potential, and no sketch fails to elicit at least a few laughs. The best sketches in the show are often those that exploit popular culture references, ranging from Lord of the Rings to Netflix and Chill; my personal favourite, though, was probably the shortest, on colour blindness – a simple sketch with a perfectly delivered ‘revelatory’ punchline.
However, the faults in the show restrict it to feeling like ‘student’ comedy, as opposed to the seamless feel of some of the larger recent comedy shows in Cambridge. Cues were missed or implemented too early, words were stuttered over (it took a few scenes for the cast to seem at ease with the material, and a fumbled word can ruin an otherwise perfectly good punchline), and pauses were sometimes too long between jokes and created a ‘tailing off’ effect. None of this makes the comedy bad – the material ranges between solid and ingenious, and the comedians are, at the very least, funny – but it is a shame that some really inventive premises aren’t followed through as well as they could have been, because of a collation of little flaws.
Additionally, the voiceovers were done by multiple performers so I can’t criticise any individual for it, but in one of the sketches where the character’s inner voice is narrated, the voiceover is downright robotic and it squanders the humour in the script. It feels like the cast are experienced comedians, but unpolished actors, and the acting out of the material is where the cracks start to show through.
More Revelations doesn’t reach the dizzying heights of the Footlights, but the hour provides a hefty handful of laughs, an exhibition of some of the most promising new talent on the Cambridge comedy scene, and the occasional spark of genius (and, Theology students, you can even get some research in: look out for the wise words of Genesis 57).
There’s never a dull moment in this week’s Pembroke Players late show, so go along if you’re up for seeing a solid display of student writing.