Tuesday, 8 August 2017

EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Newsrevue 2017 at the Pleasance Courtyard

Another Edinburgh Fringe brings another incarnation of solid festival favourite, Newsrevue. A raucous, irreverent musical sketch show – and longstanding holder of the Guinness World Record for longest running live comedy – it satires and lampoons every hot political topic and personality of our times. From Brexit to Trump, Jeremy Corbyn to Theresa’s fields of wheat, no one is safe from Newsrevue’s sharp wit and musical aplomb. 

It’s a simple format. Two boys and two girls, supported by a large team of writers and accompanied by musical director Tom Barnes on piano, rattle off the musical sketches as rapidly as machine gun fire. This year’s selection is certainly more hit than miss. What better way to start this year than with a reworking of BeyoncĂ©’s Irreplacable, getting all the mileage possible out of those famous lyrics ‘To the left, to the left…’. From that tone setter, we’re launched into Arlene Foster turning C’est la vie into a celebration of the DUP (rhymes abound), Boris Johnson proving he is the very model of a modern foreign secretary (assisted by patter lyrics Gilbert and Sullivan would surely approve of), and Assad, Putin, Kim Jong-un and Trump forming the unlikeliest of boy bands to be Bad Guys even Bugsy Malone couldn’t handle. 

The variety is excellent, the material top notch, the satire as cutting as ever. The last twelve months have been a gift for the team, and one that they have clearly made the most of, making Newsrevue 2017 a high octane romp that does not disappoint. Threaded together by groan-inducing voiceover gags, returning director Katie Pesskin has drilled her cast and keeps the laughs coming thick and fast.

There are cheap laughs, belly laughs, and laughs so bad they really shouldn’t be allowed. Abigail Carter-Simpson, Elissa Churchill, Howard Grater and Sam Sheldon are an ensemble to be reckoned with. Their brazen impressions are brilliant – Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn being clear stand outs – and their voices blend beautifully throughout the show. They work tirelessly, making the most of Alyssa Noble’s efficient choreography. Tom Barnes also should be commended for playing energetically throughout, driving the pace of the show forward; he is the engine of the piece. 

In times like these, we need shows like Newsrevue more than ever – shows that aren’t afraid to have Kim Jong-un singing Bowie’s Ground Control to Major Tom as yet another missile launch fails (replete with brilliantly bad accents and squinting eyes), or Scotland’s own Nicola Sturgeon fuelled by Irn Bru pleading with Theresa May to Let It Go and concede to independence, concluding with an S Club mash up that reassures us that ‘there ain’t no party like an Isis party.’ Long may Newsrevue continue.

Review by James Andrews 

Rating: ★★★★
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