A VIEW FROM ISLINGTON NORTH – West End

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Arts Theatre, London – until 2 July 2016

‘Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho’, ‘Jeremy Corbyn: The Musical’ – the London fringe never tires of snappily politicised titles: A View From Islington North is suggestive of a pin-sharp spoof of Jezza’s personal political standpoint and the manners and mores of the quinoa-eating classes around his constituency.

But it’s clickbait.

Conceived and constructed as a 75th birthday celebration for Out of Joint founder Max Stafford Clark with pieces collated and contributed by playwrights whose work he fostered, it’s more like a series of staff room skits for a much-loved retiring headmaster. One of them’s even written by his wife. Most of the writers are staunch left-wing stagers in their seventies – OK, Mark Ravenhill’s 49 but let’s just say he’s ahead of his time, whereas the others are way way behind what passes for currency in political satire even for the Radio 4 ‘News Quiz’ generation.

You can blame The Thick of It – Ravenhill’s ferociously foul-mouthed opener revived from 2007 in which a young soldier’s wife deflects the news of his death with c*nt after c*nt really c*n’t hold a candle to the wit and venom of Malcolm Tucker.

Despite the fact that Ann Mitchell looked magnificent, combining the transcontinental glamour of Zaha Hadid with the old native cunning of her Dolly Rawlins character – David Hare’s bizarre imagining of George ‘Gideon’ Osborne and Theresa May locked in a room with Ayn Rand (look her up) went so far over the heads of the audience that many took the kind of nap often observed on the after-luncheon benches at Westminster.

Alistair Beaton was marginally more topical with backbench quislings plotting the overthrow of an Opposition leader who’s popular with the electorate but not with his MPs – but the execution owes more to the dusty vintages of Yes Minister or Rik Mayall as Alan B’Stard and only serves to remind you that James Graham’s tartly-observed and actually funny This House will be revived at the Garrick Theatre in the Autumn.

Save your fifty quid for that. As you can see, pricing is not exactly Labour-Party-friendly ‘Pay What You Can’ at Islington North.

Oh, and talking of the Party – the first night one for the champagne socialist writers and Labour luvvies was at the Garrick Club.

Now that IS satire.

 

 

A View From Islington North runs until July 2 or a Corbyn victory, whichever is sooner: Arts Theatre 

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Johnny Fox
‘Johnny Fox’ studied Theatre at Lancaster University and Journalism at City before realising there was no money in either profession and concentrating instead on interior design for investment banks in Singapore, New York and Moscow. Back home, he wrote mostly about theatre, mostly in London, for arts and events websites including Londonist and The Pink Paper. He blogged independently at www.johnnyfox.london. He passed away, after a long battle with cancer, in May 2020.

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Johnny Fox
‘Johnny Fox’ studied Theatre at Lancaster University and Journalism at City before realising there was no money in either profession and concentrating instead on interior design for investment banks in Singapore, New York and Moscow. Back home, he wrote mostly about theatre, mostly in London, for arts and events websites including Londonist and The Pink Paper. He blogged independently at www.johnnyfox.london. He passed away, after a long battle with cancer, in May 2020.

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