Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Blair on Broadway

Iain Hollingshead, music by Timothy Muller
Third Way Productions
Arts Theatre
(2008)

Prubicity cartoon

While the characterisation and choreography were excellent, I found this production disappointing.

To give it its due, this play has done very well; elevated from a humble start at the tiny Hen and Chickens Theatre pub in Islington to a West End run. You can tell by the programmes (e.g. comments about who’s got together with who) that they’re a very close bunch of friends who have poured huge amounts of time and passion into this; they are, and deserve to be, proud.

As the audience hurls through the last decade’s major events, decisions and characters, there are some hilarious moments; Gordon Brown (Chris Cambridge) was quite brilliant as was the Jeremy Paxman (Peter McMillan) who spends every song, spitting obscenities at a cowering Blair.

However it might be the plush West End–style venue that’s to blame for drawing attention to how amateur the dancing, singing and scripting actually are.

Perhaps I’m overly grumpy because I reported current affairs throughout the Blair reign and felt they’d wasted an opportunity to be really clever. Perhaps it’s because I was blown away by the brilliance of that political play Frost/Nixon, that this all seemed a bit limp.

In fact, that I didn’t find it brilliant is unlikely to upset the two writers who put in the programme‘we think the finished product as more affectionate satirical romp than scathing critique.’

I actually hate to criticise; it takes great courage, commitment and passion to stage any production. I just hope the cast find the American producer they’re obviously hoping will take this to Broadway itself.

Reviewer: Zia Trench