City Varieties Leeds
THIS show is billed as “a music hall comedy” written by Boff Whalley of the famous band Chumbawamba in partnership with the band and the innovative Theatre Company Red Ladder.
Starring Phill Jupitus of Never Mind the Buzzcocks fame, he was last seen as Edna Turnblad in the musical Hairspray.
The show was specially written to be set in Leeds at the famous City Varieties Music Hall, to tie in with its refurbishment - millions of pounds have been spent restoring the theatre to its original splendour.
The show has an innovative opening with the cast marching round the theatre banging a large drum, singing We’re All In This Together’ the apparent Big Society theme song.
The play is set in 1911 Edwardian Britain, looking at the underbelly of society at that time - the flyer implies the play is set in a time when public school boys ran the country and corruption and sleaze riddled the corridors of power. It is implied that nothing has changed in 100 years, that the problems of society are still the same today, implying the powers that be are out of touch with the working masses and the state of things. The production is political and seems to have it routes in agitprop theatre.
Chumbawamba appear as The Big Society Band, the show has lots of songs including a Phill Jupitus solo number, the brilliantly preformed Old School Tie about private education leading people into politics.
Other memorable characters include Magic Barry and his Wardrobe of Mystery in which people fail to disappear and Eve the Escapologist, a suffragette who it is implied is the mistress of Edward the Seventh.
A thought provoking and highly entertaining experience.
Sarah J Robinson