Review: 'The Big Time'

Review by Paige Meintzer, photography by Lightbox.

When I read the On The Rocks festival program’s description of ‘The Big Time’, it said that it would include show tunes. I immediately conjured up an image (based on the jazzy, old-timey title) of some musical comedy, such as the likes of Thoroughly Modern Millie. However, this is by no means what I was met with. The three actors, who are part of the St Andrews Revue, began the series of sketches by introducing themselves and the venue in which they were acting (the St.Age) by citing - much to everyone’s amusement - that there were ‘601 reasons’ why it wasn’t the Byre. 

The show was framed around the actors’ fictional desire to obtain a television contract with the BBC, saying they were going to send a recording of their upcoming sketches to the ‘British Broadcasting Corporation’. (If audience opinions can be counted on, I definitely think the BBC could do with some of their work). Clad in alarmingly bright primary-colored tights, the group danced about the stage with the utmost enthusiasm to Cher’s ‘Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves’. 

The show also featured sketches which pertained to modern-day difficulties, either those specifically related to the struggling St Andrews student or millennials in general, such as Brexit and social activism. The scenes related to St Andrews were set in what they described as ‘the 1413 windswept kingdom of Fife’, but with a modern spin. Wearing bathrobes that struggled to conceal their costumes, they pretended at first to be brothers of a monastery, struggling to find a house in the tight-knit housing environment of St Andrews with Rollos. They then went on to imitate the drunken catastrophe that is Raisin while dressing up their academic child as a Protestant. They continued by dramatically introducing the possibility of a foreign ship ‘laden with riches’ approaching the coast from Constantinople, only to have one of them walk across the stage afterward, Dervish number in hand, to shout ‘Number 62, cheesy chips!’

They likewise included skits about modern social and political issues that are prevalent in popular conversation. One of their skits regarding Brexit was set in the boardroom of the Foreign Office during the development of a new flag that would convey ‘truly English’ values, to which the members proposed such things as a tea pot, Tina Turner, other things inexplicably beginning with ‘T’, and then sausages and Anglo-Saxon helmets, both of which are German. The meeting was concluded with a call to the PM inquiring whether they should just use the German flag and ‘quietly pretend to be German’, to which the PM said ‘yes’. Similarly, one of the actors addressed the issue of protesting by making a multitude of protest signs, some of which read: ‘Put the sex back into sexism’ (because of course, fighting sexism is ‘sexy’, and ‘Put the sex back into terrorism’ (because fighting terrorism is ‘sexy’, as well). One sign which seemed to have a positive message (‘End gender inequality now’) ended up being written in a ‘really cool font’, which actually turned out to be akin to the format of the ISIS flag…

If my own opinion and the general laughter of the audience is anything to judge by, the show was a hilarious success, and could definitely do with some airtime on the BBC (if they aren’t all killed by Mary Berry, as the show foretold). 

ST.ART Magazine