Edinburgh Fringe 2018
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 39th 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 – 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.
However, writing truly biting satire is becoming difficult these days, given that Twittering politicians deliver parody after parody through an ever-broadening stream of news feeds. And it’s becoming really hard to parody these parodies, especially when a floppy haired blond keeps upstaging hard-working performers by making comparisons between items of women’s clothing and letter boxes.
But this year’s fresh, energetic quartet of two girls and two boys (plus a very hard-working pianist) manage to hit the ground running with a pastiche of “It’s Raining Men” that’s twisted into a tale about nuclear Armageddon where it’s uranium pouring out of the skies, which is quickly followed by “Brexit, the game show where no-one knows what the f*** is going on”.
Throw in a parody of Mother Merkel extolling the virtues of disciplined Germanic governance and a running gag featuring a “KeepCup” that gets jealous when jilted by its keeper taking his coffee in a disposable and you get some idea of the whacky subject matter and rapid-fire nature of this iconic sketch show. And that’s just the first ten minutes.
Cambridge Analytica, Jeremy Corbyn, the mathematically challenged Diane Abbott, Harry and Meghan together with Theresa May and her Cabinet each get a good going over. Watch out too out for further deployment of Novichok if the quartet’s take on election rigging reaches Putin’s ears.
It’s like watching an extended episode of Have I Got News For You set to music and whilst more material than usual missed the mark this year – the Trump sketches suffered from an impersonation that needs more work and Brexit was a bit over-exposed – this show remains the standard setter in terms of political satire and parody.
Trump aside, impersonations were believable and the quartet bounced from sketch to sketch with their usual breath-taking speed. 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.
A spectacular denouement that rips into the plethora of lust driven, ageing white men that once ruled the roost in the US entertainment industry absolutely nails it and is a fitting conclusion to a full on sixty minutes that leaves no reputation unshredded. Recommended for all lovers of satire and high-energy entertainment.