The Third Leader: Song and dance

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The Independent Online

Curmudgeonliness is not a quality we encourage in this space, as it has no end of other outlets. Here we endeavour to salute endeavour, particularly if it is undertaken in the cause of art, truth and beauty. Why, then, does our heart not beat like the wings of the birds that rise from the lakes to the trees at news of the premiere of Thatcher: The Musical?

It's not the subject herself. She is, after all, very close to that point, identified by Alan Bennett and already achieved by Tony Benn, where mere survival mitigates past turbulences (the greater the turbulences, the older and frailer you have to be).

And we wouldn't want to put you off going: it is, after all, a strong storyline of struggle, ambition, prejudice, and war, if not much peace and love (that last being felt mostly by those who associate it with the firm smack, of government, and other things).

Rather it's that we're tiring of everything being turned into a musical. We've already blamed Mel Brooks for this, but it goes back at least as far as P G Wodehouse, of all people, taking on race in Showboat.

And there's no doubt that it has worked, both artistically and financially. Tim Rice, for example, laughed when I was puzzled by the concept of a musical about chess, and continued to do so all the way to the bank.

But isn't that enough? Can't we escape back to moon and June now? How about one starring a jolly young chap with a face just made for a boater and matching voice who does awfully well by just being nice and not upsetting anybody?

Sorry? Ah, yes, you're right.

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