Edinburgh Fringe 2017
Fast-paced, hilarious musical sketch show 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. It’s now in its 38th year and long since claimed the Guinness World Record as the longest running, live comedy show. And given the foot in mouth proclivity of almost anyone with claims to be a celebrity or who features on the world political stage, this show is likely to outlast even The Mousetrap.
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 weeks 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, or before if you can still get a cheap laugh out of it.
This year’s quartet of Abigail Carter-Simpson, Elissa Churchill, Howard Grater and Sam Sheldon, together with musical director Tom Barnes, certainly extracted every ounce of humour from one of the rather duller politicians to have graced UK politics for decades. I refer of course to “grey May”, our Theresa, she who shalt not call snap elections. She featured throughout this helter-skelter of an hour, most notably as a jazz singer, a most unlikely image for this rather introvert leader.
First up, of course, we had to have a parody song debating who really won the election – was it really JC (that’s Jeremy Corbyn, of course, not someone with the same initials who hung around about 2000 years ago) rather than strong and stable Theresa? Then it was on to a spoof surrounding Brexit, played along the lines of a couple out on a date, having an argument and the inevitable happening with one departing with a broken heart. But this sketch had a surprising and hilarious twist that brought the house down. And the fact that UK politics is in turmoil, given that the handful of DUP MPs are now effectively queen-makers, is a situation made for this team’s biting satire.
Mind you, Donald Trump doesn’t escape scot-free and appears to be having difficulty with his alphabet, clearly unaware that he is missing three letters as he tries to recite it to the tune of that well-known primary school nursery rhyme. And no NewsRevue event would be complete without an appearance from that very model of a modern Foreign Secretary, the one and only BoJo.
It would take too long to list all the sketches and, with so many coming so thick and fast it was inevitable that some missed the mark. And one or two caused a sharp intake of collective breath from the audience, suggesting the attempt at humour might have gone a bit too far. But most hit the bulls-eye, or close to it, including pot shots at Presidents Assad, Putin, Kim Jong-Un.
Impersonations were never less than believable and more often than not were uncanny as the quartet bounced from sketch to sketch with breath-taking speed, sharp, topical, satire being 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 again. Using a black base for their costumes, they add simple effects like hats, ties, some ludicrous wigs and scarves. 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.
This was another absolute humdinger of a show that left no reputation unshredded. Professional, precise and pitch perfect. A great hour of high-energy entertainment.