Magazine article The Spectator

Theatre: Edinburgh Round-Up

Magazine article The Spectator

Theatre: Edinburgh Round-Up

Article excerpt

Brexit the Musical is a peppy satire written by Chris Bryant (not the MP, he's a lawyer). Musically the show is excellent and the impressions of Boris and Dave are amusing enough, but the storyline doesn't work and the script moves in for the kill with blunted weapons. Everyone is forgiven as soon as they enter. Boris swans around Bunterishly, Dave oozes charm, Theresa May frowns and pouts in her leather trousers, and nice Michael Gove tries terribly hard to be terribly friendly. Andrea Leadsom, known to the public as a furtive and calculating blonde, is played by a sensational actress who belts out soul numbers while tap-dancing in high heels and a pencil skirt. Was there ever a kinder portrait of a cabinet minister? Satire is supposed to magnify and ridicule existing stereotypes rather than create fresh ones and celebrate them. The show is more a Tory party singalong than a political broadside, and it might have been written by the chief whip. Hard to see this toothless frivolity reaching the West End but it could easily play, without a syllable being altered, at next month's Tory conference. They'd love it.

Jan Ravens might get a lot more mileage out of her juddery-voiced Theresa May but she varies her show with other favourites. Hillary Clinton lurches across the stage grinning like a circus clown and waving at people half a mile away whom she's never met. Ravens offers a cruel but hilarious version of crack-voiced Winifred Robinson who hosts a radio complaints show beloved of embittered pensioners. The highlight is Ravens's affectionate spoof of Victoria Wood which is part-satire, part-funeral ode.

Another fringe impersonator plays a rebellious rich-kid who vows to shake up the world and improve life for downtrodden Muslims. That was Osama bin Laden in the 1970s. The show's trick is to give his story to a smooth young thesp, Sam Redway, who has the pin-up looks of Jude Law and the charisma of T.E. Lawrence. The Home Counties perspective forces us to sympathise with Bin Laden's aims and even to hope that he might humble the Far Enemy. It's a deeply uncomfortable and deeply dramatic piece of magicianship. The take-home truth here is that Bin Laden's legacy lives on in the ceaseless harvest of murdered western infidels.

Bin Laden pops up again in Borders by the Spitting Image writer, Henry Naylor. The script follows two parallel stories. A female rebel escapes violence in Syria, while a war photographer in the West hits the jackpot when his snap of Bin Laden is published around the world after 9/11. …

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