The Oxford Revue gave a group of seven new writers an eighth week slot at the Pilch and free reign over their own show, and the result was Horseplay: an hour of playful, wacky sketches ranging from an Australian spelling bee to existential gingerbread men. Comedy is notoriously difficult to pull off, and the cast did a really impressive job of maintaining energy and atmosphere in a pacy, original string of sketches that drew constant laughs from the audience. I found my eighth week stresses taking a backseat as I was drawn into a world of light humour that never wandered into offensive territory.
Horseplay was written, directed and performed by the cast themselves, and it was evident how well they worked together and the chemistry they had as a group. Derek Mitchell had me in stitches playing various female roles, particularly ‘Linda,’ an over-apologetic employee, exercising impressive control in these hilarious moments. That being said, a moment where the entire cast corpsed was completely hilarious. Kathy Maniura, Alistair Inglis and Stefan Harvey proved themselves particularly versatile in various diverse roles, and Kevin Kelly, Sophie Caws and Colin Hill were reliably funny in providing some of the more lucid characters in the sketches (excepting a certain horse-related excursion into the deep South).
Some sketches were certainly more clever and well-rounded than others, and there were a couple of moments that fell slightly flat for me, but the energy never dropped enough to lose my interest or enthusiasm. At times it would have been nice to see the performers more fully inhabiting the characters – while comedy allows for more leeway in this arena, sketches where actors were one hundred per cent committed to the role they were playing, even if it only lasted a few seconds, were the funniest.
The incorporation of song near the end was a brilliant touch with some witty lyrics, and you always felt safe in the knowledge that nothing would be overdone, the pace would never drop you into awkwardness and no one would be offended. Notwithstanding the audience size, the performers created a really great atmosphere in the Pilch studio last night, and I would say Horseplay is definitely worth a watch. Prepare to hear Biblical stories as you never have before, discover a new dimension to Dr Seuss, and meet some of the more pretentious frequenters of the artistic world – in other words, be thoroughly entertained.