Chip Monk: The Durham Revue

Note: This review is from 2003

Review by Steve Bennett

Student revues generally get a bad rap at the festival, and not without reason. Their humour tends to be derivative, often relentlessly lavatorial, and their performances and as amateur as they are annoyingly perky.

Durham Revue have been working hard to break that stereotype, and last year's offering was one of the surprise finds of the festival. Unfortunately, they just cannot match that level of invention and hilarity this time around, though it's not for the want of trying.

There is at least one future star in the energetic cast. David Critchley, who has the perfect, expressive comedy face - a cartoonish combination of arched eyebrows, wide eyes and gawping mouth that gives him a goofy, childlike quality. It is almost as if he was born to play a ventriloquist's dummy... which indeed he does in the most brilliantly funny sketch of the show.

This is a riotous, tasteless, energetic explosion of a scene, which few of the others can come close to. Too many of them offer nothing new. Boy bands, The Antiques Roadshow and feminist experimental theatre are barn door-sized targets, and the all-singing, all-dancing Ku Klux Klansmen who bring the show to a deliciously bad taste climax is an almost direct lift from Jerry Springer: The Opera.

Chip Monk has its moments, though, such as the competitive lads who try to outdo each other for ironic comments, but it only serves to highlight how inconsistent the quality is.

The show was well received by what seemed like a partisan crowd, and everything was expertly performed. Yet the team's 2003 show just couldn't resurrect the imaginative magic they created 12 months ago.

Review date: 1 Jan 2003
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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