Lucifer: My Part In New Labour at the 2011 Brighton Fringe

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

The obvious thing to say about writer Terry Newman's New Labour farce is that it seems like old news. Despite all the obvious parallels with Peter Mandelson's recent memoirs, politics has new baddies now, and the political machinations of the last century seem largely irrelevant

This is offset by a great spirit of mischievous Weimar-style cabaret hat runs through the one-man show, thanks to the charismatic oomph comic Matt Roper brings to the stage. He performs monologues and songs, puppet work and poetry, all at full pelt. His spirit really lifts the mood – but it can only delay the moment the fundamental limitations of the script bite.

There are jokes about George W being a cowboy who says stupid things, cheap jibes at Gordon Brown's visual disability and stating-the-bleeding-obvious comments about how reality TV has made people yearn for fame without achievement.

It’s a coalition of entertaining performance and often uninspired origins that nonetheless yields some moments of uproarious, fun. Such broad comic moments as the silly German psychoanalyst exploring the Blair-Brown relationship provide laughs of daft exaggeration – and it’s not the only highlight. That puppet scene, in which a schoolboy Blair discusses his career options with his foam headmaster, is another plus, as is the Page Three rag and the inspired take on the Chilcott Inquiry.

Roper knows how to squeeze the funnies out of these, but even he can't elevate the more predictable sections into something they are not, and eventually all the goodwill he builds gradually fizzles out like ... well, like the poll ratings of the Labour Party in government.

But it would be a shame to dismiss the good sketches with the bad, so maybe a rewrite could save the day. After all, things can only get better.

Review date: 1 Jun 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Brighton Komedia

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