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Verdict: Lively writing and performances
London - Canal Café Theatre
Run of September to 13 October2002
NewsRevue parodies the news and celebrities, with satire and occasional knob gags. It's performed by four actors, and written from a pool of around 30 writers.
The present cast are Marcus Garvey, Rebecca Nicholas, Ben Pheazey, and Victoria Stedeford. Writers for this particular evening are shown in bold below, in alphabetical order.
Caroline Adams provides 'Blair in Bush Camp': a highly original parody of parents photo-calling their missing child to return: in this case journalist Stedeford wrings emotion from Nicholas and Garvey, the distraught parents of one T Blair, missing in America.
In Martin Baum's 'Cheaper Seats', the ensemble cast sing a witty parody of EasyJet's recent problems to the tune of Mud's Tiger Feet. In his 'Heavy Reading', Stedeford takes a jibe at dozy David Beckham as she recites his bedtime fairytale reading. In 'Prescott - Clear As Mud', Garvey as Eminem in full rap is baffled by the Deputy Prime Minister's use of English. 'World Leader' sees servile Tony Blair (Pheazey) keep's Bush (Garvey)'s rectum clean in a superb parody of 'You're the lady that I love'
Marc Blakewill's 'Bush's Address To The Nation' has Garvey's President W stumbling through mangled prose, despite aide Nicholas's attempts to keep him within syntax. 'Reporting Live' sees Nicholas's comfortably warm in-studio presenter tormenting Pheazey's cold, wet, John Bishop as he waits to report outside No 10 - and waits. 'Twin Towers' is a timely tribute (from the Edinburgh show, Revolution) to the twin towers, with Pheazey as a manic Peter Snow, with models.
Marc Blakewill and James Harris provide 'Going Nuclear', in which Garvey's manic interviewer forces Nicholas's moderate Professor Turner to up the ante (and anti) on Saddam. In 'Bush's Hypocrisy', sceptical interviewer Pheazey confronts Garvey's mad Bush with the contradictions in his foreign policy. 'Pawn in the USA' sees the Arabs (Stedeford) lose at chess as well, when the US (Nicholas) upset the board.
Chris Bryant writes 'I'm a Non-Entity': Trapped in the I'm a Celebrity jungle set, Stedeford's Rhona Cameron and Nicholas's Nell McAndrew try to explain to each other who they are.
The Cast provide a voice-over: Jeffrey Archer is being trained back-stage. There's one from the previous cast too, in which the Footsie 100 becomes the most dangerous ride in the fairground.
Noel Christopher writes the excellent 'Sending In Byers'.
John Cowen's 'Compensation Culture' sees superb acting from Garvey as President Bush, reacting to a wittily-delivered voice-over from Blames Direct. His 'Class Action' involves plump Americans (Nicholas and Stedeford) looking for someone to sue close at home.
Terry Franks-Newman: 'I'm a Celebrity': the master-writer of the terse one-liner encapsulates Celebrity jungle-warfare. 'Little Devil Blair': Young Master Euan (Pheazey) discovers the mark of the Beast on his body; Garvey as his headmaster.
Jeff Halls '9-11': a witty one-liner mixing up American dates.
James Harris: 'Blair's Prayer': sharp and poetic transcription of The Lord's Prayer by devout self-admiring Blair (Pheazey). 'Pond Life': excellent ensemble singing and dancing 'Ireland's No 1 Boy Band, from their latest album, "Big Steaming No 2"'
John Hodiak:'Calling Dr Shipman': an appeal for medical attention for Prisoner Archer.
Jonny Hurst's 'We Aren't The Champions' is the excellent ensemble finale (to Queen's music), about Britain losing at - well, everything.
Rupert Keenlyside: 'Charlotte's Statistics': Witty one-liner about Charlotte Church's exam results.
Simon Ounsworth: 'The Woman Inside': Stedeford's sceptical interviewer quizzes Garvey, in blond wig, as a man in a woman's body, and prison. 'On The Spot Fines': Stedeford's police officer deals with abusive Nicholas with escalating penalties. 'Grief-gasm': Sketch that draws a few sharp intakes of breath, as Garvey, Nicholas and Stedeford, joined finally by Pheazey, parody Soham's disaster-tourists. 'I Need a Euro': Pheazey does a magnificent Blair-as-Travolta, with Garvey as a splendidly po-faced (and slightly Frankenstinian) Gordon Brown, in a superbly choreographed parody of Bonnie Tyler's 'I need a hero'. 'Instant Dubya': Jouralist Nicholas presses Garvey as Bush, as to when he'll get the Israelis to 'immediately withdraw' from the Occupied Territories. 'Dr Singh': Pheazey's Doctor Singh awaits sentence for trading in organs from Stedeford's judge.
Mike Tier and Tanya Tier: 'If I Were An Israeli': excellent ensemble song-and-dance number as four Palestinians day-dream in parody of 'If I was a rich man'. 'Iraqi Farce': Pheazey's US weapons' inspector searches Garvey's Saddam for arms; Nicholas and Stedeford help conceal the evidence.
Uncredited voice-over: 'Victoria's Delivery': Yes, it's another Caesarean.
Rupert Wainwright: 'Nigella': Devastatingly cruel (and hilarious) parody of the falling goddess inhabited with panache by Stedeford. 'Charles Kennedy': a sharp one-liner about the unknown Liberal leader.
Sarah-Louise Young: 'I Know Halliwell': Nicholas as Davina McColl and Stedeford as Geri Halliwell in Young's astoundingly gifted parody of 'I know him so well'. She uses close-harmony and separate song-lines to deliver maximum impact, and Stedeford and Nicholas sing and dance it with élan.
Musical Director Joe Craig creates blissful and rich jazzy piano. Fast lights and perfect sound from Technical Director Jake Wiltshire. Punchy and perceptive direction from Philip Lunn. Producer - Emma Taylor.
(end of original review: Thur 12 Sept 02: 2nd week of this cast)
End of run note: Sun 13 Oct 02
This run saw James Harris's spectacular new song Fisting By The Pool - a NewsRevue classic in the making. It's an astounding piece of writing (about the Barrymore pool tragedy). Harris follows all the golden rules of drama construction and provides great lines, visual gags, and individual characterisations for each member of the cast. It's achingly funny and leaves the audience crying with laughter. The run introduced new writers including Tracy Ingham (Suicide Bummer) and Howard Boswell (Bush's Startrek Gift).
The excellent cast signs off tonight with a strong, funny show, built on solid ensemble teamwork and fine individual performances.
Marcus Garvey creates a unique characterisation of President Bush, as he does with each role he tackles. His leader of Iraq is more Tommy Cooper than President Saddam (with feather duster) - yet completely convincing. It's a tribute to Garvey's talent that we readily accept his hilarious fictions over reality (could be a leader for New Labour in the making).
Rebecca Nicholas gets under the skin of her characters with fine dramatic result. Her President Bush's Aide's facial expressions work excellently with Garvey's Bush to lift the sketch to a higher plane. Nicholas has an acute feel for what's funny, and does it - the result's magnificent. Her pivotal Barrymore Witness is a tour de force of comic acting.
Ben Pheazey brings authority to his Peter Snow (bonkers), UN Weapons Inspector, TV Interviewer, and, spectacularly, Prime Minister Blair. He uses superb body language skills to deepen his characterisations. His Blair at Prayer shows a Prime Minister of such disturbingly Messianic intensity that the comedy trips excellently into the danger zone.
Victoria Stedeford's impish smile - which like the Cheshire Cat's seems to remain after her departure - wickedly subverts a number of the public figures she enacts with ease. Her femme fatale Nigella is a hoot; her stern coroner up for maximum titillation is a fine piece of straight dramatic acting which produces the maximum comic effect.
reviewed Thur 12 Sept 02 and Sun 13 Oct 02 / Canal Café Theatre
related topic - our review of Edinburgh show 5678 - NewsRevue Musical Director Joe Craig wrote the music.
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