The Five Star Revue (A Title Not A Lie)

Sat 4th – Sat 25th August 2018

reviews

Shauna Lewis

at 09:04 on 6th Aug 2018

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I don’t like to think a venue full of empty seats is an indicator of quality, but here, we all should have been more worried. ‘Five Star Revue (A Title Not A Lie)’ neither exceeds nor meets any expectations. Except for subverting its own title, there is nothing original or unique involved in the show. It offers no original comedy, and the comedy it does emulate has been overdone and outdated for a long time before now.

To give the cast their due, they continued with vigour throughout. An audience which consisted of five people, none of whom are laughing, can be hard to contend with, but they kept trying. Rowan Miller as a performer gave the most engaging performance, even if her scenes didn’t gain the laughs a comedy show should.

Initially the show demonstrated an element of self-awareness; it poked fun at the lack of people in the audience and although this wasn’t exactly laugh-a-minute, it made the audience feel more comfortable. As the show progressed however, it was clear that our slight chuckles at the beginning were a highlight never to be topped.

Around high school people generally stop finding the excessive use of swear words funny, but not in the case of ‘Five Star’. A sketch which used the word “fuck” so liberally and to literally no effect fell flat, as did a sketch in which a stork acted as midwife. Wacky usually works at the Fringe, but it requires some skill in writing it, which was lacking here. Some build-up and context wouldn’t have hurt either.

Continuing the juvenile humour, the scene about a 27-year-old who didn’t know how babies were made was another in a long line which just didn’t make sense. It wasn’t that no-one understood the material, we just didn’t know what we were meant to be finding funny.

There is the argument that comedy should be controversial and make people angry, but a sketch trivialising transgender issues was blatantly insensitive. If they hoped to gain brownie points by touching on social issues they should have gone about it a different way. You can talk about these issues without hurting a group of people, who could be in your audience.

Written by Oliver Giggins, the sketches lacked punchlines; we were simply presented with absurd situations and expected to find them hilarious. Maybe some went over my head (I don’t have an in-depth knowledge of M. Night Shyamalan) but a free comedy show should generally be accessible for all.

Consistent throughout, ‘Five Star Revue (A Title Not A Lie)’ offers nothing new and fails to deliver in every sketch. It may be free, but save yourself your own time and go see something with a bit of originality.

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Amy Barrett

at 09:54 on 6th Aug 2018

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'The Five Star Revue (A Title Not a Lie)' claims not to be false advertising. However, I found little to no five-star qualities throughout the performance. Posturous Productions have attempted a revue style showcase that tries to provide unequivocal answers as to why we are here, where babies come from and why Shakespeare’s school essays were so much worse than yours. Whilst these questions are answered, virtually no comedy is provided in their reasoning, a quintessential part of a revue.

Unfortunately, as is the risk with Free Fringe shows, there was a very small audience attending the production. This provided an uncomfortable setting to review the play as I felt conscious to laugh to support the actors even if I did not find the sketch amusing. More often than not, this was the case, and resulted in an awkward silence across the all but empty room. It's a disheartening thought considering the effort that Oliver Giggins must have put into writing the sketches.

Whilst most aspects of the production are not five star, the actors’ enthusiasm lives up to the title. The early sketches managed to spark a couple of stifled laughs, however the later ones provoked no reaction from the audience. This could have weakened their confidence and passion as the performance progressed, but the energy projected by each actor at the revue’s opening remained strong consistently throughout the show. Despite this, I found the individual performances of each actor weak: whilst Rowan Miller’s acting was satisfactory, Oliver Giggins’ repeatedly unsuccessful accents and Liliana Fonseca’s constant screaming and wailing made the already poor sketches painful to watch.

The sketches not only lacked comedic merit – they were often insensitive. Even though I was not entertained during sketches about Shakespeare’s alleged bad writing and storks birthing human babies, they were harmless. But the sketches that parodied transgender issues and females being attacked were distasteful and offensive. Miller’s confession to her mother that she wished to be taller objectionably mocks transgender confessions; a subject too current and sensitive to be turned ‘comedic.’ Moreover, the sarcastic female self-defence class sketch preached that women bring attacks upon themselves due to their clothing and features. Whilst this intended to be sarcastic, the absent comedic value meant it was simply offensive.

Don’t go and see The Five Star Revue (A Title Not a Lie) expecting a five-star show. But if you’re willing to support a Free Fringe show and are ready to witness some questionable humour, it’s (maybe?) worth a try.

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