Seeing Red: Commerce Revue
WORDS BY JOE JOHNSON
In the Red served a solid opener for the 2017 revue season with sketches that made the audience both laugh and cringe. Strong performances and impressive visual and musical comedy brought torrents of laughter to the Everest Theatre, from an expert cast and crew managed by directors Jess Zlotnick and Tom Waddell. However, despite the strength of these performances and a generally high quality show, sloppy writing and sketches that ran too long occasionally held the revue back.
The revue set the tone for subversion in its very first sketch with Harriet Lugsdin’s hilarious sub/dom, BDSM sketch. The show was at its strongest in moments like these, when it was playing with its audience, whether it be the Game of Thrones ‘Shame!’ running gag or Alex Gillezeau’s hilarious Waluigi segment. Also effective were the musical numbers – particularly those that bookended the first act. The eponymous opening song set a high benchmark for the rest of the show, and Abbey Lenton’s ‘Milly Goes to the Butcher’ was a perfect (and hysterical) close for a solid first half.
That being said, the true highlights of In the Red were the pre-prepared video sketches. A parody of The Silence of the Lambs involving a psychopathic 'Bubble O’Bill' ice cream had the audience in tears, another highpoint came in the form of a trailer for a Netflix documentary on ‘pageant mums’. Danni Paradiso’s trashy, adidas-clad matriarch hit all the right notes and was far and away the show’s standout performance. These AV skits were professional in terms of writing and execution, and showed the best of what the 2017 Commerce Revue had to offer.
However, while these video skits showed In the Red’s greatest strengths, they also revealed its faults. Their added polish underlined just how important those extra hours in the writing and cutting room are, especially in a second half bloated by long, overwritten, undercooked sketches. All too often I found myself shrinking back into my seat as scenes that should’ve been wrapped up minutes ago were mercilessly drawn out. In particular, a parody of Spiderman 2 that degenerated into a nonsensical mock combat served as a stark reminder that too much of a good thing can easily kill great comedy.
In the Red was written and performed with hilarity and aplomb. In spite of its faults, the cast’s playful energy and technical expertise were more than enough to win the audience over, making for a show well worth the price of admission.