NewsRevue always set themselves a difficult task- that is, summing up a year’s worth of news and satire without re-treading the well-plowed mulch of Mock the Week, Have I Got News for You and seemingly every program broadcast by Radio 4. Fortunately, their all-singing, all-dancing take on current affairs generally lends itself to fresh comedy and the show keeps its cutting edge without necessarily being so.
With minimal props or costuming and only Ed Bussey on piano to see us through the frequent blackouts and set the scene, it falls to the cast to keep the audience engaged and they do a bang up job of it. The four performers that comprise the onstage talent are perpetually energised, racing through a series of satires on everything from the price of train tickets to the Nigella Lawson/Charles Saatchi domestic violence case. Obviously it’s the latter type of sketch that strikes closer to the bone but aside from a few jokes about Savile that brought a nervous edge to proceedings the majority never crossed the line into offense – or crossed it twice, there and back again. Indeed, the show felt sharper when it drew close to that edge, with a series of riffs on the Les Miserables film feeling exceptionally safe.
It’s impressive how up-to-date the show was. While a reference to the royal baby might well be expected, an entire song focussed on the porn-filter announced at the end of July shows a real commitment to relevance. More general recurring themes like the state of the NHS were bolstered by fantastic character acting, most notably from Rachel Born, whose ‘Shirley’ proved a highlight of the night.
Politically, as one might expect, the show leans to the left and though they’re not above mocking Ed Miliband’s nasal tones, that’s a far cry from the hilariously evil Tories on display. The slickly-choreographed rendition of ‘Thriller’ that formed the finale to the show features everyone’s favourite recently-deceased PM in an almost groan-worthily predictable fashion. That and a punchline-less sketch on the police state proved the only dips in a quick fire, pulse-raising race through the year’s talking points that’s enjoyably berserk. While it may not be particularly probing satire, it’s very funny.