Edinburgh Fringe 2015
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. It’s now in its 35th year and claiming 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.
Where else could we start this year but with a sketch on Greek debt and how they’ve no intention of repaying? And with immigration also a hot topic and the islamification of parts of the UK allegedly on the rise, a skit from the other side of the pond featured a bunch of Fox Newscasters warning of the rise of Muslims in Britain. Apparently reports are coming in concerning a bloke in Nottingham who’s been stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.
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 a series featuring the luckless Nick Clegg, a feature on the two Eds, a bacon butty and a missing seat, some digs at UKIP and Farage in particular and, of course, following the creation of a one-party state in Scotland (without Nicola really trying), a number on how she’s going to take over the UK and then the US.
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 with 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, scarves and, for Andy Murray sounding (not!) ecstatic about the next addition to the tennis world, a tennis racquet. 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 year’s performers, Naomi Bullock, Kieran Mortell, Katriona Perrett and Simon Prag are equally at ease with music, text or physical theatre and no-one escapes their quick witted lyrics. Adding to the mix is musical director Michael Riley on piano, always in the background but a vital element in this hour of fast-paced, largely satirical comedy.
And it really is up to the minute stuff – witness a crack Zane leaving One Direction and the legalisation of Gay Marriage in the US. Knowing this troupe, they’ll be adding something near the knuckle about Wills, Kate and George’s privacy before the month is out.
Professional, precise and pitch perfect. A great hour of high-energy entertainment.