EFR - Reviews of NewsRevue 2016

NewsRevue 2016

Wed 3rd – Mon 29th August 2016

reviews

Lizzie Buckman

at 08:50 on 7th Aug 2016

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When a company manage to make Brexit, the demise of the NHS and even paedophilia funny, it’s got to be said that something rather special is going on. The longest running comedy show in the world, NewsRevue enjoys an impressive alumni, yet this year’s Edinburgh cast more than filled those rather large shoes. Even away from their tiny home of the Canal Café Theatre in London’s Little Venice, NewsRevue appear to have no qualms about filling Pleasance Beyond’s substantially larger stage.

The lights came up on the cast of four, accompanied on stage only by a pianist (Tom Barnes) and the show began, in an unexpectedly impressive harmony. 'NewsRevue' consists of satirical covers of well-known songs, with the words altered to describe current affairs. It is done to such a high standard that for a moment the humour is lost, as the strength of the cast’s voices sinks in. This is just one element among many, which contributes to making 'NewsRevue' a roaring success.

Continuous accompaniment on piano and a good few comedy wigs give the show an informal cabaret feel, but Stuart Glover’s slick lighting design betrays the show for the superbly professional production that it really is.

'NewsRevue' is an example of character comedy at its best, whether it’s Matthew Pennington’s smarmy portrayal of a private doctor, or Jessica Brady’s quite frankly outstanding rendition of ‘One’s reviewing the situation’ as Queen Elizabeth II (an adaptation of the song from Oliver the Musical). Emma Taylor’s team are unlikely to tell you anything you don’t already know, but they’ll tell you it with greater style than most. The invention of the name ‘Gloatyboaty McC***face’ for a certain politician was, arguably, a stroke of genius.

Unfortunately the writers do occasionally push the subject matter too far, and the smattering of laughter after the letters ‘YMCA’ were replaced with ‘ISIS’, resounded somewhat nervously around the auditorium.

The songs and sketches were consistently funny until, unfortunately, the finale, in which the energy ground to a halt. Newsreview’s strength lies in character work, and this four person mash-up incorporating multiple songs and themes simply didn’t leave space for the characters that drive the show to emerge.

This gloriously shambolic show, which rejoices in political mishaps and hurtles from song to song at a dizzying pace, is certainly not one to miss at the Fringe.

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Una O'Sullivan

at 10:10 on 7th Aug 2016

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The queue for ‘NewsRevue’, the longest running live comedy show in the world, stretched out from the theatre doors, and wended around half of Pleasance Courtyard. This enthusiasm is testament to the enduring quality of their comic genius— their show will be continually altered throughout the Fringe Festival, to keep up to date with current affairs, and this freshness results in hilarity which can be uncomfortably close to home. The relentlessly satirical team behind ‘NewsRevue’ leave no stone unturned in their farcical imitations of those in the headlines, and the audience love it.

The four performers put on an extremely polished, wholly entertaining show, with song, dance, costumes and sketches all put to riotous use. All four are excellent singers, and I was particularly impressed by the voice of Jessica Brady, whose heartfelt satire of Adele’s ‘Hello’ was one of the biggest hits of the night. The acting style is silly and theatrical, which works effectively to caricature the politicians and figures in the public eye. The song choice stuck to the classics of comic parody, with more than one rendition of ‘I Will Survive’. Although the humour can at times risk falling into the cliched stereotypes of its subjects (for example, comparing Donald Trump to an orangutan), it is undeniably funny in the format of a song and dance.

The show is definitively leftie, satirising Brexit with a multitude of sketches which provoke laughter almost because of their undercurrent of outrage. That said, the Labour Party and Lib Dems are by no means forgotten, with Tim Farron getting an especially witty treatment. Looking at the audience around me, I found an interesting gauge of public feeling on the news. People were most comfortable laughing at the treatment of the UK and US politicians, yet during a jokey impression of boogying ISIS terrorists, many of the faces around me were serious. There were quite a few 'oofs', and even disapproval at a merciless caricature of the Queen, while a short skit on the current epidemic of Pokemon Go brought down the house. As well as being a fantastically funny show, ‘NewsRevue’ has the very useful capacity to turn our political anger into laughter, and to imbue all the recent political misfortunes with a fortifying sense of the ridiculous.

All in all, even if you are only vaguely in tune with what’s buzzing in the news circuits, ‘NewsRevue’ is a cracking show that will have you laughing helplessly at those topics which people take so seriously.

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