Posts Tagged ‘Vivienne Achaempong’

Well I’ve never had a goodie bag on my theatre seat before…..or wore a party hat…..or played bingo and participated in a raffle…..or played along with a tin mug and wooden spoon…..or been brought a nice cup of tea to my seat….. or laughed as much as I did on Friday……

James Graham’s brilliant idea for his biographical play about Screaming Lord Sutch is to play each scene as a comic routine (Pete & Dud, Morecombe & Wise, Tommy Cooper….) or a sit-com (Steptoe & Son, ‘Allo! ‘Allo!, Hi-de-Hi!….) or a sketch show (TW3, The Frost Report, Monty Python…..) or a comedy film franchise (Confessions of…..Carry On…..) from British culture, and the idea, and the staging by Simon Stokes, is inspired. It so suits the subject matter, one of Britain’s greatest eccentrics, but it also manages to get under the skin of its subject, his loneliness and his tragic demise.

We’re at a party in a social club in his home town of Harrow and we follow his story from teenage years through to his premature death, 41 general elections / bi-elections later, from his first party-less one in Stratford after the Profumo affair in 1963 through contests with Harold Wilson and Margaret Thatcher to his final stand in 1997, now leader of the Monster Raving Loony Party. In addition to his political life, it covers both his performing career and personal life.

He captured the heart of the nation because he sent up politicians and the political system as it so often deserves. Oh I so wish he was still with us to inject some of this into the current horrendous, scary referendum. A character like Sutch could only exist in the Britain of the last forty years of the 20th century, not before, not after, not anywhere else, and we’re a poorer country without him.

The superbly talented cast of six – Samuel James (Sutch), Joe Alessi, Joanna Brookes, Jack Brown, Vivienne Achaempong and musician Tom Attwood – play him, politicians and returning officers and people in his personal life, as well as a multitude of characters from just about every classic British comic creation over a forty year period. I’m not sure how they keep it all together, with some uncanny impersonations and an anarchic quality that sweeps you up in warmth and nostalgia. I was having the time of my life.

I cannot recommend this lovely show enough in its final week at Soho Theatre. Completely unmissable.




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