This review was originally written for EdFringeReview.com
Student sketch comedy is, by and large, pretty darn terrible. Yes, it’s good that enterprising students are braving the fierce Fringe and yes, it’s true that student comedy can be the breeding ground for national treasures; but the simple truth is that the majority of them are just not worth your time. Even the most prominent of student sketch groups are rarely all killer and no filler, particularly this year.
The Warwick Revue are the glorious exception to this tiresome mediocrity. Their free show, Sketch Education – which unfortunately ends today – is perhaps the best student comedy on offer at this year’s festival. Performed at The Annexe, with its casual, lively atmosphere and its eternally open bar, Sketch Education is clever, varied, satirical, absurd and brilliant.
The five-strong cast (Arnold Thornton-Rice, Katyana Rocker-Cook, Peter Riley, Sarah-Jane Judge, and Matt Hearn) are all engagingly enthusiastic. Rocker-Cook is arguably the stand-out performer; her versatility, vocal expressiveness and physicality are reminiscent of Sarah Hadland, particularly when affecting the classic intonations of the news reporter. Judge also deserves mention – a chip of fellow Glaswegian Susan Calman’s block, whose high-pitched Scottish lilt is a delight in itself.
In truth, there are no weak links to this sketch troupe and they create some memorable moments. Thornton-Rice’s bumbling Ed Miliband mime to Matthew Brackstone’s fabulously accurate thought-stream voiceover is a recurring sketch, which succeeds in drawing belly laughs every time it crops up; Rocker-Cook’s existentialist argument with a traffic warden is elegantly contrived; and Thornton-Rice, Riley and Hearn’s penultimate scene – three bawdy lads tucked up in bed, whose true emotions reveal themselves when the light is out – is probably the pick of the lot, if not the Fringe.
For all these stellar performances, the show’s real strength is in its writing. Sketches are short, snappy, and never stay a moment longer than they need to. It is refreshing to see a student sketch show with only sporadic moments of dullness, so inspiring to see young comedians who do not come across as self-absorbed and self-important, but are endearing for their modesty and self-effacement.
The Warwick Revue have one show left – tonight. Go and see them; it’s hardest you’ll laugh at a student sketch show at the Fringe this year.