COMEDY / All that glitters is not Gary: Mark Wareham reviews Leader] The Gang's Tribute to Gary Glitter

The problem with parodying a parody is that you can end up playing it straight. And parodies come no more ridiculous than a beefy hirsute man in heels and lame. So for the first few moments of Leader] The Gang's Tribute to Gary Glitter, it seemed that we were in for a night of down-the-line reverential pastiche. Sure enough, as the dry ice cleared, there was Gary (M Simon Leigh) bulging out of his Bacofoil, tottering on his silver stacks and striking his ludicrous poses, just as you knew he would be - as sure as 'Rock 'n' Roll Part 2' follows 'Rock 'n' Roll Part 1'.

Until, a few minutes in, the narrator (being Gary's 'manager') remembered that in 1970 his struggling charge had been signed up as the high priest on the Jesus Christ Superstar LP. Enter Andrew Lloyd Webber offering Glitter ' pounds 40 cash or one per cent of the royalties' on the album. Glitter plumped for the notes. 'Ah]' sighed his manager, 'Gary's artistic intuition . . . He would have made a quarter of a million.'

The scene was entirely in keeping with his tabloid character. And from there on in, the show's avowed intent was to strip a legend of his Bacofoil and present him as a hopeless buffoon who had somehow chanced upon success: pure mock 'n' roll.

The Leader's glory days skipped by, deemed too lacking in failure to warrant overlong attention. It was as well that the Glitter man himself was not present, as had been rumoured, to witness his downfall at the hands of cocaine and the taxman, hunched over the toilet bowl crying pathetically, 'I was once the king of glam rock.'

The sharpest episode was the recounting of the moment the star was born. The Glitter gear had been settled upon when Gary's mentor / producer, Mike Leander (Steve Furst), plucked a foil-wrapped chicken from the oven - 'Ah, sparkly clothes,' exclaimed Gary. The Glitter handle had been debated: Stanley Sparkle, Terry Tinsel etc. But the Glitter look? He still needed those startled wildman eyes. At which point a wasp started to buzz him and he was overcome by a paroxysm of twitching terror, frantically flapping his arms to wave the wasp away, the eyes widening in childlike fear. 'That's it,' proclaimed Leander. 'You look completely ridiculous . . . It's perfect.'

Notwithstanding some spectacular costumes and an imaginative set, the show could not disguise its Edinburgh Fringe roots. The script was not always watertight and the acting, Furst apart, ropy. Certainly, you would never back Leigh's voice to emerge triumphant from a seaside talent contest, despite the fact that he and Furst have toured their tribute band, All That Glitters, with Bjorn Again.

Leigh's dancing eyebrow work was more reminiscent of Frankie Howerd than Gary Glitter, and even Freddie Starr has managed better Glitter impressions. But none of this mattered given that the show's raison d'etre was Gary himself, a man who perfected 'Method singing' - where the vocals became secondary to 'an enormous amount of bodily movement'. Rock 'n' roll has already given us 'the roach'. Now we learn that what Gary Glitter was really doing all the time was 'the wasp'.

Arts Theatre, 6-7 Gt Newport St, London WC2 (071-836 2132); 8.30pm. To 30 July

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam