NewsRevue calls itself the world’s longest running live comedy show, and has received stellar reviews in the past. The ensemble cast is incredibly slick. Maybe it was the long running nature of NewsRevue, then, that led to this year’s poor script. The jokes were easy, some incredibly taboo without the humour, and only the musical numbers saved this production from a one star review. Despite being written by a large number of people, the show did not work for me.
It opens with a sparkling Cabaret parody. It’s a promising premise, commenting nicely on the phone hacking scandal which has featured in headlines over the past year. What absolutely killed the clever tongue-in-cheek attitude was the introduction of a performer dressed as Angela Merkel, goose-stepping across the stage. I have no problem with the cross-dressing, a classic comedy staple – but implying that German leaders are Nazis? Really? The outdated and frankly unnecessary reference is followed up by quite a few more, including one line comparing Diana to roadkill. Maybe that would have been taboo and a little funny ten years ago, but it felt lost and completely out of place in a review of the news stories of 2014.
The one-liners between sketches rarely got many laughs from the audience, and whilst some were funnier than most of the sketches themselves, the overall feel to the show was hit-and-miss. A sketch about Rolf Harris’s songs rewritten must have been done more for the shock factor than for any real comedy, because the few jokes in there were so lazy they didn’t deserve stage time.
The songs were the saving grace of the show, and the NewsRevue pianist must be commended for his consistently entertaining instrumental between scenes. The song revealing the truth behind the recent selfie culture was fantastic, and I only wish the rest of the show had been that funny and silly without going for jokes which surely have been done several times before. The Frozen parody was just one more in a huge pile of ‘Do You Want To Build a Snowman’ renditions, and whilst it was amusing it seemed overdone to have Nick Clegg as the lonely Anna to David Cameron’s cold Elsa. If only they’d spent a little more time and effort on the song parodies, they could have been fantastic.
NewsRevue clearly has the talent to be writing far better sketches. The impersonations of Michael McIntyre and Cheryl Cole were funny and clever caricatures, but they had nothing to do with the last year of news stories. The finale song, ‘One Day More’, to sum up the feelings about the Scottish Independence Referendum, was good fun. NewsRevue should perhaps focus more on these parodies, and less on the other sketches which so often fell flat. For such a hyped show, I was disappointed. They deserve to write much better material than the show they already have, for their own sake and for that of the audience.
NewsRevue is at Pleasance Courtyard until 25 August. For more information and tickets visit the EdFringe website.