Upon hearing this show was taking place in the Union House Theatre, which seats around three hundred and fifty people, I was worried. There’s nothing worse as an artist than performing to a half empty theatre. But as I walked into the space with a minute to spare before show time, I was delighted to see an auditorium teeming with excited audience members.
This is the Med Revue, which, unlike the Law Revue who source students from all faculties, is performed entirely by medical students. The show is a mashup of Disco Fever and Dante’s Inferno, with a number of unrelated sketches thrown in for good measure. A central narrative surrounding Satan and her followers in hell threads its way through the piece, bookended by short, stand alone skits and instrumentals.
The show kicks off with an orchestral number by the band, and what an unexpected delight it is to actually be able to watch the musicians perform in full view onstage. Having spent my whole life waiting for these mysterious figures to pop their heads out from backstage at curtain calls before they can be applauded, it was wonderful to be able to see them throughout the entire show.
In classic sketch comedy style, the set is non-existent, with the relevant pieces and props brought on for skits as required. Unfortunately this did prevent a smooth flow from sketch to sketch, as we had to wait for the performers to exit, and for the next round of props to be brought on before the following skit could begin. This may have been less of an issue were the pieces slightly longer, however all the opening sketches of both acts were less than a minute. Although there is nothing like snappy one liner, twenty of them in a row begin to wear thin. Had these short skits been interspersed with the longer orchestral pieces and musical theatre numbers, and perhaps dotted throughout the central Dante’s Inferno narrative, the show may have picked up more of a steady flow.
The choreography by Sarah Marshall and Georgia Laidlaw is to be commended. Although these musical numbers aren’t always vocally strong, they are supported by tight and varied choreography. Direction by Alex Nathan was also well done, however the show would have been tighter overall with a more brutal editing of some of the one liner skits and more elongated songs.
However, there are definitely some notable sketches. The Uber Driver, Breakfast Comes Early, V-I-O-L-A, Suit Song and of course Pinging in the Train, were the ones that had me laughing the hardest. Similarly, there are a few performers whose prowess and commitment requires me mention them here. Sophie Avramoudas shines in her role as an overworked Satan, and her vocals stand out as strong and without unnecessary flourishes. Andrew Coote as Sloth embodies the mindset of every student in week seven, and is also able to segue seamlessly into his other smaller roles within the sketches. Alex Nathan has enviable fun in his part of Lust, gyrating his way through the narrative to the rhythm of our laughter. But it is Felix Davis in his role of Wrath who steals the show. His performance is testament to the value of complete commitment to character, as his wild eyes and looming physicality hold the audiences attention even when he is in the background.
Ultimately this show guarantees laughter. The comedy may ebb and flow but the hellish narrative thread and admirable performances keeps the production engaging throughout.
Medley’s ‘Dante’s Disco Inferno’ runs from the 6th-8th of September in the Union House Theatre.