Gary Le Strange: Polaroid Suitcase
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2003
In the future, everything will look exactly like the future used to look like in 1981.
From the moment Gary Le Strange is introduced, you realise what a fantastic target for comedy the Eighties New Romantic pop stars provide, with their pretentious, art-school posturing completely at odds with their nerdy reality.
With hindsight, it's so obvious someone would eventually parody the likes of Adam Ant, Japan and Gary Numan -but Waen Shepherd has done it first, and done it brilliantly.
His attention to the smallest of details is what makes the spoof so effective. The original bands were almost self-parodies in the first place, but Shepherd has delicately judged the subtle tilt required to show them up while still staying reasonably credible.
With his extravagant, dramatic gestures and ridiculously overblown philosophies, the character sets himself up for the fall that the trite lyrics eventually provide, as he rails against conformity and commercialism with a moronically simple philosophy that he considers profound
He certainly looks the part, with badly-drawn face and a range of dandyish and pervy costumes to capture his period, whether inspired by foppish romantic poets ("I am the Byronic lord of pop") or sexy robots ("I am the bionic lord of pop"). The performance is top-drawer, too, as he cockily struts the stage throwing disconcertingly crazed melodramatic stares at the audience.
Combine this with a spoof songwriting skill worthy of Neil Innes, with such spot-on pisstakes as Is My Toaster Sentient? and I'm Japanese, and you've got a parody that does for the New Romantics what former Perrier winners Garth Marenghi did for the horror-writing genre.
Polaroid Suitcase will obviously appeal most to those in their early thirties who grew up worshipping the frankly absurd early Eighties popstars so mercilessly savaged here, but this ridicule is nothing to be scared of, whatever your age.
A cult is born...