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NewsRevue - 25th Anniversary Edition
Verdict: Guinness World Record show
Review of NewsRevue's simultaneous Edinburgh run
A Guinness World Record has been awarded to NewsRevue as the world's longest running comedy. Details of the award and presentation on the show's 25th anniversary - 18 August 04 in Edinburgh and London are here.
NewsRevue parodies news and current events, often via the medium of knob gags. It's on weekly at London's Canal Café Theatre, and annually at the Edinburgh Fringe. So during August, two separate shows run simultaneously, 400 miles apart.
The London show features Simon Balcon (the slightly taller actor who plays PM Blair), Laura Checkley (the taller actress with fair hair), Jennifer Page (the shorter actress with blonde hair), Steven Tagg (the actor who plays President Bush). Musical Director (Pianist) is Tom Carradine; Director - Christopher Hale; Technical Directors - Ross McGivern, Rachel Moule (tonight); Producer - Emma Taylor; Assistant Producer - Louis Brownhill; Box Office (tonight) - Elliot Stewart.
Tonight's show includes ensemble an In The Navy medley about UK gunboats mistakenly landing in Iran. Includes Iran Iran; We're Going To Sail Our Boat The SAS Way. There's a President Bush military records voice-over. Simon Balcon gives a fine delivery of PM Blair monologuing a gullible British public, catching his nuances.
Don't Mention The War (Part 1) is the night's highlight, with a stunning performance of Basil Fawlty by Steven Tagg; Sybil is by Jennifer Page, PM Blair by Simon Balcon, Mrs Cherie Blair by Laura Checkley. It's an excellent piece of writing against the invasion of Iraq.
There are items on Sven-Goran Eriksson's sex-life, Big Brother, South-West Trains, David Blunkett MP on Blind Date, Abu Hamza, David Prescott MP; a very funny short sketch about the Greek Ambassador. There's Liverpool prostitutes being legalised; a fine song, 500 Malts (by Marc Blakewill & James Harris), ridiculing Charles Kennedy MP; an MRSA Bugs Are In The Air song; Wayne Rooney; Butler Report.
Laura Checkley acts elegantly as Jordan singing 'The Biggest Slapper In The Nation'. There's a crisp Iraq sketch on the changeover of power (Jennifer Page, Simon Balcon, Steven Tagg); Marlon Brando (We Need A Brando); UKIP v BNP; a very long-standing NewsRevue sketch - Chariots of Fire; a less effective Part 2 to Fawlty Towers; problems with the Diana Fountain; Diana, I Once Served A Girl Called Diana, sung by Paul Burrell (Steven Tagg).
There's an extended, generally witty sketch about recent Conservative leaders, with Laura Checkley excellent as Lady Thatcher, and Steven Tagg strong as John Major MP, all to Elvis Presley's 'Always On My Mind' but with dirtier words.
Steven Tagg delivers President Bush messing up his lines, corrected by Aide Jennifer Page. Jennifer Page is a Weapon of Mass Destruction, there's more Big Brother; the Millenium Dome; an Iraq sketch to Da Do Ron Ron ('He's so dumb dumb dumb').
The evening's other highlight is a tight and expert sketch caricaturing show-trials in Iraq - seen as a Marx Brothers sketch. Laura Checkley is an American judge, Steven Tagg is President Bush, Simon Balcon is excellent as Groucho Marx aka Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Azi, Jennifer Page as President Saddam Hussein aka Harpo Marx.
The cast is strong, with an outstanding performance from Laura Checkley - a remarkable actor. Direction from Christopher Hale is crisp. His direction puts a frame round the action to maximise comic potential - particularly noticeable in the briefly frozen moment at the end of each sketch. Writing is variable, with two strong items.
Writer Credits: NewsRevue writers credited to this London run include (alpha order): Carol Kentish, Christopher Bryant, Christopher Hale, Colin Stutt, David French, Derek Thompson, James Harris, Jennifer Page, John Cowen, Jon Kirk, Jon Dixon, Laura Checkley, Mark Blakewill, Noel Christopher, Ron Winkworth, Simon Balcon, Simon Ounsworth, Steve Edwards, Steven Tagg..
Cast Credits (alpha order): Simon Balcon. Laura Checkley. Jennifer Page. Steven Tagg. Musical Director (Pianist) - Tom Carradine.
Company Credits: Director - Christopher Hale; Technical Directors - Ross McGivern, Rachel Moule (tonight); Producer - Emma Taylor; Assistant Producer - Louis Brownhill; Box Office (tonight) - Elliot Stewart.
reviewed Saturday 14 August 04 / Canal Café Theatre
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