Simon Munnery: Alan Parker Urban Warrior Farewell Tour | Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett
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Simon Munnery: Alan Parker Urban Warrior Farewell Tour

Edinburgh Fringe review by Steve Bennett

Long before Twitter’s wokest campaigner Titania McGrath was a twinkle in her gender-neutral parent’s eye, Simon Munnery was mocking the certain but ineffective slogans of the politically correct, but in a more sympathetic way. 

Alan Parker rode the coat-tails of the first wave of alternative comedians, poking fun at the idealistic punk radicalism and tribal Thatcher-bashing from which it sprang. He might be a product of his time, but in this age of Jeremy Corbyn, Greta Thunberg, Extinction Rebellion and gilets jaunes, his relevance is back in the ascendency.

Munnery’s a different performer now, too. Once he was the same generation, more or less, as the student activists he mocked, absolutely certain of being correct in a binary world. Maintaining idealistic rabble-rousing tendencies into middle age is much rarer, but Munnery has made no concessions to that: Parker is the same as he always was – even to the extent of railing against the jackboot of Thatcher 

He even wears the same slogan-daubed bomber jacket, despite the intense heat on the Stand’s tiny stage. It’s not too long before he discards it to show his own yellow vest – but he sweats and rasps through the hour, clearly suffering for the cause.

The audience have changed, though. They aren’t as tuned in to the radical cause as once they might be. When Munnery cries: ‘Extinction’ only a few comrades give the correct response: ‘Rebellion.’

Slogans are what the character is all about, and Munnery has scores of pity one-liners, often sabotaging their own premise in a few efficient words. ‘What if the unthinkable happens?’ he asks. ‘I’ve thought about it.’ These brisk examples of hypocritical hyperbole are packed into the show as densely as any one-liner merchant would cram in far simpler puns. It’s very off-brand for a lefty loafer to be so industrious. 

To add variety to the sloganeering, radical art is displayed on placards, he recruits an ad-hoc band and offers some performance pieces to get across his political points. Less pertinent to the general tone of the character are some pro-Sainsbury’s chants and a throwback of a different sort as he revisits The Orb’s 1991 chill-out dance hit Little Fluffy Clouds to rework the lyrics. But it varies the pace.

Parker will always have special relevance for those who remember the militant activists of the 1980s. But even now – part museum piece that he is – there’s a relevance in an increasingly rebellious world.

Review date: 13 Aug 2019
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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