It’s impossible to review NewsRevue without mentioning that at 39 years, it’s the oldest running comedy show in the world. I suppose there hasn’t been any shortage of news recently, but as the line between parody and real-life blur even further, director Samuel Hopkins and his crew have had to work hard to deliver a show that has something fresh and interesting to say. The show runs every day at the Underbelly, George Square.
The show is always different and always the same. Two boys and two girls perform a series of topical sketches and parodies of popular songs based on the news of the last twelve months, accompanied by the musical director on piano. The humour is lightning quick and can range from the whimsical to the acerbic.
The current roster of performers – Jack Mosedale, Jacob Jackson, Philippa Carson and Susannah Austin – nail some riotous impressions of figures in the public eye. One highlight is Mosedale’s Theresa May, who captures her Roald Dahl villain-esque demeanour perfectly without having to say a single word.
The show is very demanding in terms of singing, dancing and speaking, but each cast member tears through the material effortlessly. The staging as always is appropriately spartan, with each performer wearing all black and only one or two props to denote different characters.
NewsRevue is at its best when it has an interesting point to make. A sketch depicting Brexit as a gameshow with May, Johnson and Davis as contestants is a perfectly absurd take on the current political situation, packed with one-liner after one-liner. A Busby Berkeley musical number about Hollywood in the wake of the Weinstein effect also feels fresh and thought-provoking.
Things start to feel a little more tired in the inevitable Trump material – given the gobsmacking comedy of errors that Trump and his team are currently blundering through in an attempt not to get themselves arrested, one might hope the show would make some jokes that were about anything other than his poor vocabulary and his love of Twitter. The show also contains a Dora the Explorer crossing the Mexican border sketch as if no-one else has thought of this before.
Like any sketch show some of the material is stronger than other parts, but NewsRevue is still a solidly entertaining end-up of the year’s news by some brilliant performers. This comedy institution shows no signs of slowing down.