Fringe preview: When Blair Had Bush And Bunga
Ex–figureheads toppled in political parody
This article is from 2015.
Satire is becoming ubiquitous – from YouTube to panel shows – yet it is a form that's difficult to perfect. Patrick Ryecart is aware of this, as he swaps his usual role of actor for that of writer/director of When Blair Had Bush and Bunga.
Centring on an imagined visit by Tony and Cherie Blair in 2001 to Cliff Richard's Barbados home, with house guests Berlusconi, Bush and Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell, it is classic high farce, with an undercurrent of dark comedy, when a dead body is found floating in the swimming pool.
Ryecart explains: 'A good mix of people in a good setting should completely camouflage the situation, which is the secret of satire. And certain people are ripe for ridicule. Personally, I don't like going to the theatre to be hit on the head with a message. That should be something that you are left with later. If you want. I go to be entertained.'
There is always the worry for many in dealing with parodies of the rich and powerful that there will be a backlash, but Ryecart is actually hopeful that might happen. 'A backlash is a word conjuring wonderful dark deeds and scurrilous things. Wouldn't that be marvellous?' he quips. 'I'd love Blair and his household to sue us for 'defamation of character'.
'However', he goes on, 'Mr Anthony Blair, in his all-absorbing role of peace envoy in the Middle East, requiring personal security to the tune of public funding of £15,000 a week is, in the view of our lawyers, unlikely to bring an action (pity) and even less likely to succeed if he did. Perhaps Cherie will attack me in the Pleasance Courtyard bar with a bar stool, but I'm sure she's got a sense of humour somewhere.'
Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, 8–31 Aug (not 17, 24), 7pm, £13.50–£16.50 (£12–£15). Previews 5–7 Aug, £8.