Blair on Broadway, Arts Theatre, London
Thursday 24 January 2008
Though Tony Blair's air-guitar administration ought to provoke scathing satire, for the most part criticism of our leaders has been feeble, a mere assertion of dislike and disrespect. The latest example is this musical, whose impoverished-nursery production values and general amateurishness reach depths previously unknown in the West End. The show has dropped the interval it had during a previous run, yet, halfway through, an actor comes on and says, "Welcome back."
The conceit of Blair on Broadway (book and lyrics by Iain Hollingshead, music by Timothy Muller, direction by Jessica Dawes) is that the former prime minister, "the greatest actor of our age", is starring in a musical based on his career. Yet, apart from singers chorusing "Blair on Broadway! Blair on Broadway!" there is no attempt to locate the show in New York, to exploit the adulation Blair receives from Americans merely for being educated and articulate. George Bush appears, but is deferential and naive, dazzled by Blair, a bizarre take on a relationship attacked for being precisely the reverse.
As Blair, Joshua Martin blinks and chatters mechanically, a pallid version of Jon Culshaw's masterly impersonation on Dead Ringers. The writing is so mindless that it's hard to believe the actors are not making it up as they go along. Blair, in a T-shirt that says "I wanna be a rock star", muses that he and Brown are like "Noel and Liam, John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Ant and Dec..." Cherie, holding a barrister's wig and lots of shopping bags, sings, "I'll stand by my man... and if he ever needs a friend, I'll be there to the bitter end." To call this puerile is giving it more credit than it deserves.
The only departure from the posturing and whining is Chris Cambridge's Brown, a type of Frankenstein monster who lurches about, at one point laying into Blair, who bats him away and screeches like a little girl. But this cartoonish crudeness lands no more blows than the script's timid impertinence. With nothing to say, but not feeling that should stop them, the show's creators have a lot in common with its star.
To 31 January (0844 847 1608)
film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Woman falls to her death as she celebrates marriage proposal at the edge of Ibiza cliff
- 2 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Dad attempts revenge on teenage daughter, plan backfires spectacularly
- 5 Ball pool for adults opens in London
Game of Thrones, season 5: Grey Worm actor Jacob Anderson is all for more male nudity – as long as he can keep his clothes on
Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
Game of Thrones really doesn't want Danny Dyer - EastEnders star rejected three times
Martin Scorsese 'in shock' after death on set of new film Silence
Game of Thrones season 5 trailer: The first full-length look is here
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account