“We’re sold out tonight so please don’t leave any empty seats”, the long line of audience members are told as we line up on the stairs to get inside. This collection of The Melbourne University Law Revue alumni are playing at Campari House, a cosy venue on Hardware Lane. Well known for their successful alumni and high quality sketch, Law Revue putting on a show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival makes perfect sense. Not to mention it’s very funny!
The title of the show is a mystery. It’s strange to put on a Christmas themed show in March, and even stranger that only a couple of the sketches have anything to do with Christmas. Initially the name excites me, a criticism of sketch is that it can often become disjointed and uneven if there is no common thread or theme connecting each new part. Although that is what the title and description proposes, this show is a set of sketches with little commonality.
Bookended by memorable musical numbers, this show consists of a number of sketches of various lengths. There is an excellent variation created by the placement of extremely short jokes next to the longer sketches. Those covering Australian politics receive the warmest reception from the audience, while the less relatable jokes about super villains and a drug addicted elephant do not land.
But ultimately it really doesn’t matter. The jokes are snappy, transitions quick and performers totally committed. Particular standouts are Sweeney Preston, an excellent vocalist and gifted at making some of the more abstract jokes hilarious. Finn McGrath, whose fierce focus every time he comes onstage immediately draws your eyes to him. He has so much energy it is almost detrimental, as even when he isn’t a main character in a sketch, I find myself watching him. James Cameron, a seasoned performer in the Law Revue, also gives sharp performances and holds the show together with his command of the stage and the other performers.
However it must be noted that this is truly an ensemble work. The cast is strong together, and that is what makes this production tremendous. My favourite sketches are the ones where we see most or all of the performers at once, as they bounce off each others high energy and are consequently both joyous and riotous.
I am laughing the whole way through this show. It has the ebb and flow of a good sketch comedy performance, with excellent pace that keeps me engaged throughout. Ridiculous impressions are sandwiched next to reappearing running jokes, there is nothing predictable about this production. And if the usher at the door is anything to go by, there may not be many tickets left to this show. So if you’re a Labor Hack or a fan of Les Mis, I would recommend a night at Campari House.
The Melbourne University Law Revue and Enter Close and Crowded’s production of All I want for Christmas is Revue runs at Campari House from 26 — 31 March 2019.
Photography by Ben Andrews.