Edinburgh Fringe 2013
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 33rd year, the format remains refreshingly simple marking 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 and a bunch of one-liners based on literally anything that has been in the news over the last twelve months.
We had to open up with a spoof on the latest royal birth, a theme the team returned to later in the show with some near the knuckle stuff that caused the audience a collective intake of breath. We had songs about the triple-dip recession, a glum looking Andy Murray saying he’d smile if he won Wimbledon, a wonderful “Bash-a-Burglar” number to the “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and an extended parody of the musical “Joseph” covering various topics. Sketches included Charles and Nigella in a spoof of “Mr and Mrs”, interactions between horses and cows in the abattoir and on the shelves at Tesco’s, benefits cuts, the latest NHS crisis, call centres that you can never contact and a whole series of the great and good throughout history apologising for Nick Clegg. Hate figures making appearances included Jimmy Savile and Assad of Syria, posh Tories and bankers. In fact, the only thing they didn’t have a go at was the Edinburgh trams, or continuing lack of them. Or perhaps they regarded that as beyond a joke, as we that live here have long since done.
Impersonations of the glitterati were never less than believable and more often were uncanny as the quartet bounced from sketch to sketch with breath-taking speed. Each sketch hits the nail squarely on the head with the sharp, topical, satire topped off with plenty of irony. Staging is suitably tight. 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, some ludicrous wigs, 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 a marvellous take on the late Mrs Thatcher, a complete send-up of course but not in any way malicious. Just juicy, biting satire bringing a deserved final ovation for this talented quintet.
Professional, precise and pitch perfect. A great hour of high-energy entertainment.