The big society? What jolly good fun!

Lisa Howard, as Eve, takes Phill Jupitus (George Lightfeather) and Dean Nolan (The Master of Ceremonies) in hand during Big Society. Picture by Tim Smith.
Lisa Howard, as Eve, takes Phill Jupitus (George Lightfeather) and Dean Nolan (The Master of Ceremonies) in hand during Big Society. Picture by Tim Smith.
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Big Society! A Music Hall Comedy

Leeds City Varieties

Until February 4

A MUSIC hall comedy, written by Boff Whalley of Chumbawamba and starring Phill Jupitus was only going to be one of two things – rather cringeworthy, or rather brilliant.

Luckily it was the latter.

Big Society! takes you back 100 years to the Edwardian world of Music Hall when the masses went to places like City Varieties in Leeds to let their hair down, indulge in some vulgar comedy and poke fun at the upper classes and leaders.

And Big Society! holds no punches in taking the mick out of the coalition government and David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’.

The show has a feel of a student revue show, in sophistication and performance level. It sticks to The Man via crudely drawn ‘this is right’ and ‘this is wrong’ political idealism.

The political criticisms are obvious, but that’s not a bad thing. A sketch with ventriloquist Lord David and his puppet little Nicholas, while not hugely original, was brilliantly done and had the audience laughing and star Phill Jupitus corpsing.

The show switches between the backstage antics of the 1910 Music Hall cast and their variety performances. The musical numbers are catchy as hell and perfectly observed, and the whole thing is great fun and very funny.

It’s definitely worth going to see, it will make you smile and you’ll be humming the songs for days afterwards.

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of studenty satire every now and then – sometimes crudely-drawn pictures can be the most effective when it comes to finding the heart of a problem.

A job well done by theatre company Red Ladder, Chumbawamba, director Rod Dixon and all the cast.

Julie Bartram.