Nick Hall: Spencer (3 stars)

This article is from 2018

Nick Hall: Spencer

Opening up a lost chapter in UK history with wit and wigs

Why is Spencer Perceval not among the most revered and remembered Prime Ministers in British political history? This is the question which character comedian Nick Hall is asking all month with barely disguised befuddlement. After all, he was an ardent critic of the slave trade, hated hunting, and was a mere 5ft 4" small. But perhaps most notably, and notoriously, he remains the only PM to be assassinated while in office.

Given that the circumstances behind at least 50% of the US presidential assassinations are ingrained in the west's collective psyche (John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald and the grassy knoll reverberate down history), it seems odd that John Bellingham (an embittered Liverpool businessman who, in 1812, pulled the trigger on Perceval in the House of Commons lobby, no less) is not a household name on these shores at least. In a torrent of exciting historical revision, Hall plays all the parts including the assassin, the victim and his successor (the shady Earl of Liverpool), while a posh 19th-century wig doubles for a breastfed baby. There's a little bit of Hamilton and an awful lot of fun to be had in Nick Hall's lo-fi rollercoaster around a little-known chapter in British history.

Underbelly Bristo Square, until 27 Aug (not 13), 1.30pm, £9–£10 (£8–£9).

Nick Hall: Spencer

  • 3 stars

Nick Hall takes on Spencer Percival – the only British Prime Minister to ever be assassinated.