A seductive, if perplexing, name for the variety show featuring Comedy, Circus and Magic Soc: The Marvellous Emporium of Wonders. It left you laughing, thinking, and taken aback by the depth and range of skill on offer. The show begins just as mysteriously as its name would imply, with smoke whispering out underneath the red curtain. Our host, Joe Hart (vice president of Comedy Soc), led the show in a loosely Victorian theme, which held the things together.
Comedy Society opened the evening with a “Doctor Doctor” which although predictable, went down well with the audience. Another piece, the ‘Colonial British Broadcasting Channel’, was somewhat lacklustre, followed by a fantastic sketch – a Victorian Sex Phone Line – which had the audience thoroughly in stitches. Comedy Soc had another success with a (and I’ve made up the name here) ‘Retro Modern’ piece, involving a tablet operated by hammer and chisel, a portable grandfather clock, Durham being compared to a ‘polytechnic’ and a human ‘pop-up’. It was well thought-out and enjoyable, this along with a pun-gone-too-far of Jack the Stripper again went down a treat with all and though the Victorian stand-up sketch felt wooden, it was quickly passed over with a highly politically incorrect (but hilarious) skit involving a chimney sweep.
Circus Society broke up the sketches adequately, and although their skills are much harder to appreciate, their performances were well done. Starting out with hoops and progressively adding more and more facets as the show progressed, they were able to show off the array of talents in their armoury. Unfortunately, some of the more ambitious pieces did involve a few mistakes; on the whole there was an impressive range of talents on offer.
The highlight throughout The Marvellous Emporium of Wonders was, without doubt, Magic Soc. Paul and Joe, the two time-travelling rich Victorian gentlemen had a great rapport with the audience, involved many ‘volunteers’ and had everyone trying to guess how they did their tricks. Even a few technical difficulties; ‘devisualiser 9000′ breaking (goggle strap fell off) and Joe slipping into a wall couldn’t ruin the presence they had on stage – in fact this stuff was so funny that afterwards people questioned whether that was part of the act or not!
In all, ‘The Marvellous Emporium of Wonders’ was a decent evening. To sum it up in the words of an audience member, aptly using Victorian understatement, it was “rather good, wasn’t it.” All three societies contributed to a varied, entertaining and absolutely hilarious show. Watch out for any events featuring any of these societies in the future – they’ll be worth seeing.