Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Fast-paced comedy show with hilarious songs and sketches covering anything and everything that’s been in the news these past twelve months. Since they were here last year in fact.
Newsrevue is an institution. Now in its 31st year, the format remains refreshingly simple which is what marks it out as a standard setter amongst musical sketch shows. Just take two boys, two girls, a musical director and a large team of writers, throw them together for a few days and then deliver thirty or more quick-fire pieces of topical humour based on literally anything that has been in the news over the last twelve months.
We had a lament to the final Harry Potter film set to Abba’s Mama Mia, the truly awful sight of Berlusconi putting together a dating video and Dave ‘n Nick (alias our Prime Minister and his able deputy) out discussing government policy over a drink. Then it was onto a sharp little pieces examining the Catholic church’s attitude to contraception and paedophilia, Sarah Palin presenting herself as the only viable candidate for the 2012 US presidency, Ryan Giggs revealing more than he really wanted to and whether Willie really got the best bum when he married Kate – isn’t Pip’s the better of the pair?
Sharp, topical, satirical and topped off with plenty of irony, each sketch hits the nail squarely on the head. Staging is nothing short of perfect. Lights go to black after each sketch and, no more than two or three seconds later, inch-perfect spotting comes up to reveal the actors changed and ready to go for the next skit. Using a black base for their costumes, they add simple effects like hats, ties, scarves and other quickly accessible props to differentiate characters. It’s very professional, tightly scripted (not a word is wasted), involves split-second timing and contains an extremely broad range of characters, caricatures and accents for the actors to get their heads round. Music is provided from on-stage, allowing perfect synchronisation with the actors and the provision of slickly delivered pieces to link the sketches and songs.
The cast are equally at ease with music, text or physical theatre and no-one escapes their quick witted lyrics. To close we have the Queen, resplendent in crown singing Welcome to the House of One to young Kate (a great parody of that old Madness hit), the Millibands as rapping doods and a finale that could be nothing other than a massive dig at the Murdoch empire and what ought to happen to it.
Professional, precise and pitch perfect. A great hour of high-energy entertainment.