Home Theatre REVIEW: Spitting Picture: Idiots Assemble on the Phoenix Theatre

REVIEW: Spitting Picture: Idiots Assemble on the Phoenix Theatre

REVIEW: Spitting Picture: Idiots Assemble on the Phoenix Theatre


Spitting Picture has been a part of British tradition because it first aired on ITV in 1984. Operating for 132 episodes over 12 years, with its satirical themes and no-holds-barred punchlines, this puppet present had an enormous fan base. It was revived in 2020, and now has a fully-fledged stage musical within the West-Finish. 

We’re guided by means of Spitting Picture: Idiots Assemble by none apart from Sir Ian McKellen (who’s a critical ac-tor). The soon-to-be-crowned King is in a disaster, having observed that the material of society is in tatters and have to be mounted earlier than he might be coronated. To do that, he enlists the assistance of the two-foot-tall Tom Cruise to deliver collectively a crack-team to repair it. This workforce should battle the powers of the evil troupe who’re accountable, led by Boris Johnson in fact. 

This manufacturing stays true to its roots. It’s hilarious, horrendous, and pulls no punches whether or not satirising Greta Thunberg or Donald Trump. While the writers have wheeled numerous outdated tropes, they nonetheless resonated with the viewers and are as related as ever. The present nonetheless has buckets of originality and bang updated moments; whether or not it’s the possessed horror of Suella Braverman who we see deliver herself to orgasm in act 1, or the Scottish screams of Nicola Sturgeon as she is chased by the police. All in all, the writing is punchy, and humorous, and makes you wince in all the fitting locations. 

Probably the most spectacular work of this entire manufacturing is the puppeteers. Their craftsmanship and vitality sizzle on stage. Nicely finished to Antony Antunes, Katie Bradley, Rianna Ash, Kaidan Dawkins, Bertie Harris, Emily Essery, Pena Iiyambo, Jackie Lam, Will Palmer, Shiny Ong, Helen Parke, Tom Quinn, Richard Vorster, and Faue Weerasinghe. With out each one among these performers the present would collapse and lack the engagement from the viewers. Implausible work! 

The life-size puppets would stay considerably lifeless with out the vocal work put in by the voice-over artists on this present. Their dexterity and eye for idiosyncrasies within the celebrities and politicians that they’re vocalising are sensible. Kier Starmer, Angela Rayner, and Donald Trump want a point out for the accuracy and brilliance right here. The selection to pre-record the voice overs for the present is divisive for me. On the one hand, it ensures that supply is correct each evening in order that the puppeteers might be completely in sync with the recordings. Moreover, the present is up to date fortnightly, so the recordings age effectively. Alternatively, pre-recorded voices include a plethora of points for a dwell present. Audiences chuckle and applaud somewhere else every evening, and a few voice work was both misplaced on this or awkward pauses arose. It additionally takes away a uge promoting level for dwell theatre over watching this on BritBox: LIVE! I might have been spellbound if the voice work had been carried out dwell, and I feel it could not solely have added to our expertise as an viewers, but additionally lowered a few of the negatives permeating this manufacturing. 

The manufacturing worth may be very excessive, and there’s no scarcity of set and costume modifications. Whether or not outdoors Quantity 10, or within the English Channel on a small boat, the set, costume, and lighting by Alice Energy, Tim Mitchell, Nina Dunn, and Richard Brooker have been all unbelievable. The largest let down on this present for an viewers is the pacing. Hindered partly by the character of recording all of the dialogue, plenty of the scene modifications felt clunky and awkward. The writing, from the sensible and hilarious minutes of Al Murray, Matt Forde, and Sean Foley, additionally typically didn’t correctly ship a punchline to finish a scene, leaving the viewers in a limbo questioning whether or not to applaud or not, which was usually met with an ungainly silence and applause because the scene modified. 

For an evening out within the glittering West Finish (someplace James Corden is thrilled to return to) Spitting Picture does the trick. It strikes out in opposition to disgraceful behaviours and attitudes which can be the trademark of the present authorities, and feedback with its full chest about essential points, akin to immigration, the press, and corruption, with out letting up on the laughs. I imply, the place else are you able to see Carrie Johnson’s singing nipples, Jacob Reese-Mogg as a Praying Mantis, and Suella Braverman inform Gary Lineka to f*ck off (apart from, possibly, the Cupboard)?

Evaluation by Max Topliss

Seat: Grand Circle B 1 | Value of Ticket: £102



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