A Weapons Inspector Calls

Justin Butcher

Theatro Technis

(2003)

Review by Philip Fisher

The second instalment of President George Dubya's War Against Tourism forsakes Dr Strangelove for J.B.Priestley. Where Justin Butcher's very successful The Madness of George Dubya satirised the invasion of Iraq, its successor, set in the near future, takes on the hollow justifications of that war.

Once again, the production combines biting satire with songs and jokes and, this time, a harder political edge. Nobody escapes the Inspector who, as in the original, represents conscience and ruthlessly exposes hypocrisy. This reaches its satirical peak as we are forced to face the concept of 9/11as a blank cheque that allows the US to invade half the world.

The play finds nutty George Dubya (Andy Harrison) on the brink of re-election. As a reward, he is allowed to shuck off his gag and straitjacket for the evening. Looking like an older Joe 90, he confesses to much, while squeaky clean, puppy-like Tony Blear (Alasdair Craig) tries to avoid blame, with an all too familiar insincere innocence.

Their wives, the wide-eyed, scouse Cherie (Jacqueline Wood) and the ruthless Christian Fundamentalist, Laura (Barbara Hastings) also get dragged in. The team is cmplemented by the German action man, vice-president Arnie Schwarzenneger (Matthew Dominic) and the truly murderous Donald Rumsfeld (Rupert Mason at his best in KKK outfit).

A Weapons Inspector Calls reached its press night somewhat unprepared. Mark Heenehan as The Inspector was less than certain and, as is the way with satirical sketches, the quality was uneven. However, even in this raw state, it was often very funny and contained much that should embarrass the leaders of the civilised world.

If it keeps going a few weeks, writer/director, Justin Butcher will almost certainly turn the show into something special. It injects fun both by using original wit and by drawing on numerous popular cultural influences such as The Godfather, Benny Hill and The Waltons. With its revue-like mix of comedy and up-to-date political comment, it could well follow Madness to West End success.

The other two plays in the Trilogy are The Madness of George Dubya and Guantanamo Baywatch.