August 14, 2013  //  By:   //  Edinburgh, Reviews  //  Comments are off

Rating ****
Reviewed by Ed Theakston

Opening with a hilarious image of Kate giving birth to our future king, with Queen Liz acting as obstetrician, the audience are thrust into the no-holds-barred musical extravaganza of topical comedy that is NewsRevue. It is not hard to see why this show is a solid Fringe favourite, and the latest incarnation lives up to the reputation of previous shows.

A cast of four, with the onstage pianist, take the audience through a series of hilarious satirical skits and sketches, mixed with musical numbers. It is incredibly slick and pacey, and the sketches jump from a frustrated customer dealing attempting to book a ticket on East Coast trains, to TOWIE’s Amy Childs attempting to solve the recent riots in Brazil, to Ed Miliband introducing his new taxes on the rich with help from his ‘good friends’ Liberty X. In short, it is brilliant.

The cast of four have tremendous comic ability, colossal stamina and enviable versatility. Rachel Born and Maddie Rice stand out, having perhaps more chance to shine than their male counterparts. Born is particularly notable as Shirley, customer service extraordinaire, and shows off a strong voice leading the cast in a musical tribute to Clare Balding. Rice is hilarious in a recurring role as a horse that somehow ended up in a Tesco lasagne. Thomas Judd and Alex Pritchett also show of their versatility and skill in a range of roles. It is a shame at times that the cast are not always able to hit the higher notes in some songs, but on the whole they are strong and cohesive.

Director Tim McArthur has done an excellent job. In the selection and placement of the sketches, McArthur ensures that there are no dips in the energy, the momentum continues flowing and so do the laughs. His choreography of the musical numbers is also entirely appropriate and well executed – particularly in the superb reworking of ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ as ‘Bash a Burglar’, satirising the recent rulings on self-defence. Simple props, such as inflated rubber gloves to represent cows udders, are well used. Musical director Ed Bussey gets a great sound from the tight cast and the musical transitions are well deployed.

The writing, by a large team rather than an individual, is not scared of crossing the line; in fact, the line seems irrelevant. And thank goodness for that. What results is an uproarious, close to the knuckle and topical show that is impossible not to enjoy.

You’ll have to hurry to get your tickets, though, because this show looks set to continue breaking Fringe records.

Director: Tim McArthur
Musical Director: Ed Bussey
Cast: Rachel Born, Thomas Judd, Alex Pritchett, Maddie Rice