Park Theatre, London – until 18 May 2019
Hell Yes I’m Tough Enough is the latest in a long line of political plays seemingly written for people who dislike politics enough not to really bother finding out how it really works. As such, there’s a large and growing audience.
This is a silly play, and when it is deliberately so, that’s fine. It’s when it aims to make a point that it falls flat. Either because it is so out of place among the very broad satire that it falls somewhat flat. Most of the rest of the play is made up of endless rather off-colour sex jokes (and you know a sex joke has to be off colour if it doesn’t really work for bawdy old me) and playground humour. There are definitely laughs to be had and as such it isn’t unenjoyable. But it just feels a little too easy at times. A little too much froth and too little substance.
The performances are largely pretty good. Especially from writer Ben Alderton as David Carter and Ben Hood as Ned Contraband. The start is a rather interesting word poem performed by the whole cast which lists a range of political topics which are then little discussed in the rest of the drama. The scenes are broken up by the mysterious, Obi Wan like figure of Jez. No really (but actually, that entire thing is worth it for the Ewok joke alone).
The play is staged in four long acts either side of the interval based in the respective offices of the leaders and then a final showdown at the leaders debate. Each act is just a little too long, but there is some sharp writing there too. With a judicious edit, and a slightly sharper take on how a leader’s office really works there is enough content there to make a shorter, sharper play work.
Ultimately, I just wasn’t convinced the writer had done enough homework. There were a few glaring errors in the script that you didn’t have to be as politically obsessive as I am to spot. Also I just wasn’t sure that misdiagnosing Ed Miliband’s (sorry Ned Contraband) issue as being a yoga wanker was really the political satire this moment deserves.
I like the Park Theatre and I liked the performers here. I just felt that they didn’t quite have enough to work with – even in this overlong play.
Hell Yes I’m Tough Enough is on until 18 May https://www.parktheatre.co.uk/whats-on/hell-yes-im-tough-enough