Reviewed: Deckchair Diaries

Livia Carron reviews the Revue’s one night only returners show, Deckchair Diaries.

The much anticipated returners show, performed in Castle’s Great Hall, was a laugh out loud bonanza of bad dates, blasphemy and badger cats.

Built from a compilation of different sketches, the revue managed to achieve fluidity throughout the whole show by varying the lengths and tones of each individual performance. Notably, the scenes dramatizing different BBC Afternoon Films, acted as clever transitions between sketches.

The re-telling of the classic Mary Poppins story was both a haunting and hilarious picture of a drug pushing nanny who, rather than solving problems with a spoonful of sugar, preferred to use a spoon and lighter – and an illegal substance. After Jack Harris’ performance, it’ll be hard to look at Julie Andrews the same again.

Other sketches were a little more in touch with reality; from vulnerable freshers to defensive teenagers and, of course, that weirdo you meet at the bus stop. I particularly enjoyed what can only be described as the world’s most awkward blind date, where a sweet and friendly Megan Brownrigg was subjected to a barrage of job interview style questions and a panel critiquing her every move.

David Knowles’ RADA audition – inspired by Stanislavski’s notion that ‘there are no small parts, only small actors’ – had us all in hysterics. A note to any Durham directors with a tight budget; Knowles’ performance has proved his incredible ability to portray – or rather, become – essential kitchen gadgets.

Jesus had a starring role in the show, and the audience were offered an alternate view of the Gospel narratives – featuring an appearance from Leonardo Da Vinci, annoying iPhone apps and handcuffs.

The comedy ranged from classic punch lines to the bizarre and unexpected, such as the strange yet amusing driving lesson with Stefanie Jones which introduced us to the badger cat species and the popular sport, badger fishing. Similarly, Fergus Leathem’s conquest quickly unravelled as a horrific misunderstanding, which played on the double meaning of ‘nailed.’

Staging and music was used extremely well, and all the sketches were linked together seamlessly. In a couple of Elgan Alderman’s scenes, the cast cleverly split up speech to distinguish between Alderman’s thoughts and what he actually says. What really gave these sketches a humorous edge was Alderman’s excellent facial expressions, which perfectly matched and captured the thought process spoken by other members of the cast.

The performance wasn’t without corpsing or forgotten props, however, these incidences were either quickly recovered from or the cast found a way to use the on stage mishaps to make their sketches funnier.

All in all, the show was a delightful concoction of offbeat humour and top class comic timing. Let’s hope it’s not too long before the next reunion.