The first review of Tony Blair - the Musical is up on the Fridaycities London website; you can read the original review here, and it is reproduced below.
Tony Blair - the Musical - the Review
Fridaycities London, July 30th 2007
Last year James Lark wrote and starred in a musical comedy called The Rise and Fall of Deon Vonniget. It previewed in London, then spent a couple of weeks in Edinburgh, garnering small audiences and moderately enthusiastic, sympathetic reviews. It was a diverting evening’s theatre for sure, but on the whole – featuring as it did a song about cheese and a hopefully deliberately appalling impression of Terry Wogan – it was just a little too silly and slight. It was clear that Lark had talent, but he badly needed the right story through which to channel it.
This year he plumped for a story that had already been written; it just needed some ruthless editing and a damn good sexing up. This Lark provided, courtesy of a decent rash of belly-laughs and some stonking great tunes. The resulting show, Tony Blair – The Musical, is a revelation.
Ostensibly focusing on the relationship between Blair and Gordon Brown, but really using that as an excuse to rehash the highs and lows of the Blair administration, Lark’s musical tribute to the ex-Prime Minister is very funny. Furthermore, thanks to exemplary performances all round, the songs – every now and then – make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. And we’re speaking as people who, on the whole, have little but the most profound disdain for musical theatre. Highlights of the show include a line-dancing George Bush with a filthy mouth, Alistair Campbell as a Wizard of Oz Big Brother hybrid, and a highly plausible take on the conversation after Prescott walloped that guy with the egg. Best of all however, is the portrayal of David Blunkett – crossing him with Bob Carolgees may have been born out of necessity, but it proved an absolute masterstroke.
It’s a shame however that there wasn’t more of Blunkett. It would have been nice to see his fall from grace – the adulterous fall from grace, we mean. But of course fitting ten years into just ninety minutes means that sacrifices have to be made. And on the whole, we think Lark made the right ones.
All of the cast excelled but a special mention must go to Nathan Kiley for his subtle and highly effective turn as Tony.
As you may know, there is another musical about Tony Blair currently warming up for Edinburgh further up the country. This one, entitled Tony! The Blair Musical, we haven’t seen, but if it’s going to give Lark’s Blair a run for its money, it had better be damn good. In the meantime, Lark will carry on fine-tuning his Blair in time for the festival, where we predict it will do very, very well. In fact, if this play isn’t on the West End this time next year, we’ll eat our special theatre hat.