Edinburgh Fringe 2012
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 32nd 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 an opening number serenading the Tweeting phenomenon, set to the tune of ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ and then got right down to the biting political satire that the writers specialise in with the first of a series of ‘Dave and Clegg’ sessions which got steadily crueller as the show progressed but were, nevertheless, an eerily accurate reflection of the way the relationship has developed (or foundered) over the past 12 months. John Terry’s indiscretions could probably have filled the whole hour, but we had the team’s take on that pillar of society’s more glaring transgressions which was followed, appropriately enough, by David Attenborough’s exploration of the London riot season. And no satirical show worth its salt could ignore the characters in the soap opera that is the Leveson inquiry which gave the chance for someone to don a ridiculously ginger wig to produce a passable Rebekah Brookes look-a-like.
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, 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 Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ –but with the Olympics as the theme, and whether we can really afford them. Given the outrageous success that the Games have been, one might question whether this was taking cynicism a bit far but the lyrics and the way they were delivered just about stayed the right side of the line and brought a deserved final ovation for this talented quintet.
Professional, precise and pitch perfect. A great hour of high-energy entertainment.