NEWSREVUE Satire that fails to hit the target

Consisting entirely of up-to-the-minute topical satire skits, this all-singing, all- dancing soapbox couldn't be more contemporary. Yet there's something desperately antiquated about it, something broad and music hall. In theory this is no bad thing. Spike Milligan, Monty Python and Samuel Beckett all credited music hall as a significant influence. but where they took a step forward, Newsrevue seems to be motionless.

Much of the stronger political material tries to be funny, fails and ends up halfway between drab and offensive. Nothing is off-limits to comedy. but the deeper you go into bad taste territory, the funnier you have to be. If your zinger on the Benazir Bhutto murder is Pervez Musharraf shooting a journalist. perhaps you should stick to slagging Charlotte Church. That said. the Fritzl family twist on The Sound of Music is just horrendous enough to work. It's clear that the Newsrevue crew have no pretensions to alternative comedy. and are to be lauded for that. It is what it says it is, an old—fashioned news lampoon. Alas, this isn't enough to make it any good. (Sam Healy)

I Udderbe/Iy’s Pasture. 0844 545 8252, until 25 Aug, 6pm, £1 7—27 5 (£9. 50—£‘7 2. 50).


Stretching an ingenious sketch to breaking point «e

Comprising two perky male leads and a woman referred to throughout as ‘The Secretary'. this elongated sketch details a plot to kidnap an African dictator (the titular Zimbani) in an overwrought pastiche of 705 Spy adventures. lt resembles Garth Marenghi's Darkp/ace but without the modern-day wraparound. But plot be damned as the ludicrous action takes us on a voyage of cliches including over-earnest deep intonation, period

facial hair and rampant Life on Mars- esque sexism.

It's all performed with great energy but it's telling that gaffes (deliberate or not) tend to generate the biggest laughs. It also feels like a ten-minute sketch stretched to an hour. and audience attention wanes while awaiting a twist that never really happens. However, the journey incorporates enough fun to carry us through. particularly a punch-up choreographed to avoid dangerous bits of set and an inspired training montage. Ingenious fun.

(Murray Robertson)

I Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550. until 25 Aug (not 20), 2.45pm, 2850—29. 50 (£7—E8).


The mutt’s nuts is wearing the cat’s pyjamas m0

Living on your own might be fraught with danger and potential misery, but

it doesn’t half give a decent comic shedloads of material for a show. And fortunately, Jon Richardson is more than just a decent comic; he's a true star in the ascendant. This northern chap, who talks merry

, nonsense with Russell Howard on

the wireless. can't decide whether he's a fan of the human race or not. Finding himself annoyed by inconsiderate types on trains and in cars. he still has enough warmth smouldering in his soul to allow the rain-soaked crowd to pile into his venue early. The downside. he readily admits. is that we have to listen to his depressing choice of music for slightly longer than anticipated.

But in Richardson's hands. the


mood is never less than cheery as he flits around his topics. never letting the comic potential to escape far from his radar. His show may be Dog/natic. but Jon RichardsOn is new the bee‘s knees of young British comedians. (Brian Donaldson)

I Pleasance Courtyard. 556 (55:30. until 25 Aug, 8.40pm, F] (—312

(£79. 50—5.? 70. 50).


vs Versus is rather too close to 2005’s Stop Not Going

Fantastic yet familiar physical horseplay mo

The Fringe traditionally gets its unfair share of headlines for being a hotbed of nudity and a feast of skin-baring. But two guys in their jimmy-jams before the watershed? What gives? The massively innovative North American double act of Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez is what gives. Watching them return to Edinburgh after an absence of three years is simultaneously a joy and a frustration. While they remain one of the freshest acts in town, the ironic downside to their magical imaginings and pinpoint delivery is that it’s all too hauntingly familiar.

With just a couple of chairs as props (and a third man in nightwear strumming the musical backdrop), Versus

26 THE LIST FESTIVAL MAM"! 14—21 Aug 2008

for comfort. We get the same small girl, whistling old people, brusque men with big Yankee moustaches (a truly memorable mime that one) with almost identical chase sequences. This time around, there’s also a brilliant running gag about a man with no thumbs, an inspired and hilarious stop-motion erotic interlude and a tender slo-mo sequence which captures the show’s best moments. For sheer visual impact alone, there’s not a single thing you can fault with the Allen and Chavez performance. If you were lucky enough to see them in 2005, you may feel marginally let down. If this is your maiden voyage on the Pajama Men express you’re in for a physical and spiritual treat. (Brian Donaldson)

I Assembly Rooms, 623 3030, until 24 Aug. 7 .40pm. 572—8730317472).