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History / Timeline

[Editor's note: This summary of the Group's history is principally a transcript of an article written by Keith MacDougall and/or Mike Day in 1986, for the tenth anniversary reunion show Ten.]

1976

Like all good births, Revue Group's was of humble origin. A confused, chaotic meeting in a filthy Students' Union office, on January 28th 1976.

The group stumbled nervously to its first ever production, a show made up of sketches brought in by the first 20 or so members. Held in the Chaplaincy Centre on 9 and 10 March 1976, it was called Can We Have Our Money Back?. Fortunately, the audience didn't ask the question.

Beginning to have confidence and the sketches beginning to flow feely from members' pens, the group smartly followed the first revue up with a second, just two months later, again in the Chaplaincy Centre. It was called The Left Handed Screwdriver Show.

Revue Group then took on its bravest step to date, a move to the Nuffield Theatre for the first time for its third show, The Free Tenth Unit. Perhaps the group learnt from this that a large cast doesn't make for a slick production.

1977

Then to 1977 - this time four revues. The first, When The Boot Goes In, was held in the Chaplaincy Centre and contained probably the group's funniest sketches thus far.

By this time the group had decided to go to the Edinburgh Fringe to stage a revue. By way of a build-up, the group put on a "Best Of" compilation at the Nuffield in May 1977 called Golden Mouldies, repeating some of the successful sketches from the group's first two years.

So to our first visit to Edinburgh - in August 1977. Haley's Vomit suffered the huge problems of being one amongst hundreds of Fringe shows and being in a poor location. It was a disappointment but good experience none the less.

Returning from Edinburgh, the group set about producing the autumn term show. Nuns And Lovers was the group's Dardanelles: a combination of lack of experience, material and time led to a less than satisfactory show.

1978

Undeterred by N&L, we bounced back with Spar Wars. The scripts were written, the actors rehearsed and all was set to go ... but we had not counted on the manageress of Spar. She thought we would bring the shop into disrepute with jokes about Spar prices, vegetables and pre-packaged product. None the less the show was successful. [Editor's note: We actually had a very nice letter from one of Spar's directors, giving us specific permission to use their name in the show's title.]

Then came Edinburgh once more, a new team, filled with hope, was once again despatched to the Athena of the north. We had a somewhat difficult venue. It was a soft porn cinema. As you can imagine we got a rather different sort of audience. On the second night there was a murder in the toilets and a doorman was involved in a hit-and-run accident. But we had two successful nights with Lancashire Hot Pot. After a scathing newspaper review we started to outnumber the audience.

The next campus show, Fanfare For The Common Cold, restored flagging spirits, but for some reason we were left with only a few members, which led to a membership drive. This only yielded one person ... and he was a poet.

1979

The group recovered sufficiently to put on The Road To Morecambe Pier, which again went down well.

It was at this time that the idea of the Kick The Squirrel Roadshow came into being. The idea was to give local campus societies, bands and individual performers the opportunity to perform anywhere, anytime, for anyone. It was started by Revue Group along with Community Action Group; the idea was also to give people as much experience as possible with every conceivable type of audience.

So for the next five summers KTS toured the north west, visiting kids' homes, pubs, clubs, streets and anywhere else that would have us. The highlight was probably the Illawalla Country Club in 1983 Where we were paid to go off. KTS meant that we could only concentrate on one show a year.

[Editor's note: Given the peripheral status of KTS and the sheer logisitics of documenting its activities, it currently falls outside the scope of this site.]

1980

In 1980 A Fistful Of Dossers became one of our most notable successes; it was the start of having running themes, something which later Revue members perfected to produce far more polished performances.

1981-1983

Dark Side Of The Lune was another watershed, performed with mostly new members. Some inspired acting and improvisation made up for a patchy show. Virtually the entire cast re-appeared in Rodrigo Borgia Invites (1982) and quite a few lasted into Shame (1983). In each of these the 'theme' was carried through a number of small sketches and fillers as well as the finales.

1984

Postcard From Passchendaele strictly adhered to its 'War and Prejudice' theme without sacrificing entertainment value, and it had the highest proportion of last-minute additions of any of the later revues.

1985

Rhapsody On Glue returned to a night-club format as tried in earlier years and included Revue Group's long-awaited attempt to deal with the shortage of sketches for women.

1986

Revue To A Kill was a 'fresh' show, with most of the cast making their debut, in the Nuffield. This was the title used for the return of Revue Group to Edinburgh after an eight-year absence.

[Editor's note : The original article, written for the audience of Ten, naturally finishes at this point. The following additions have been made to round out the Group's history, based on current information. If you know more, please pass on your recollections.]

In September 1986, an assortment of former members, including several of the group's founders, gathered at that year's Graduate Weekend and performed a retrospective compilation in the Nuffield, appropriately entitled Ten. Despite having only a day to rehearse, the show went well.

1987

Another Nuffield show, called Much Revue About Nothing in February was probably followed in the summer by another visit to the Edinburgh Fringe (details, currently unknown).

1988

The next Nuffield show was called Where Beagles Dare. Interestingly, this was an unused candidate title for both Haley's Vomit and Nuns and Lovers, a decade earlier. Coincidence or good record keeping?!

1989

The main campus show was again in the Nuffield, this time called The Fish They Couldn't Hang, followed by another trip to Edinburgh (once again, no details of the latter).

1990

The turn of the decade saw a campus show called A Room With Revue at the Nuffield. According to the programme, this show featured a cast of just 8 people. A far cry from some of LURG's early shows, which featured enough people for two football teams, including substitutes!

Another Edinburgh show followed later in the year, titled The Friends of Sheepy Sheep. Remarkably, this show is reputed to have made a profit! It also appears to have been LURG's last visit to the Fringe.

1991

Iota was this year's Nuffield show. The Nuffield programme described the show thus: "The year 1991 is special in two ways. Firstly, it is the year in which Lancaster University Revue Group put on their comedy show IOTA. Secondly '1991' written backwards is '1991'". Obviously, they had yet to discover the word palindrome.

1992

LURG's last show is believed to have been performed at the Nuffield this year. Its title is currently unknown, as are the detals of when/how the Group finally ran out of steam.

Now

While the disappearance of the original group was disappointing, comedy at Bailrigg lives on in the shape of the Lancaster University Comedy Institute. LUCI is LURG's spiritual successor at Lancaster and we wish them every success.

Do you have any additional information regarding LURG's history, particularly the later years?