wed 22/05/2024

Jonathan Pie, Duke of York's Theatre review - spoof political reporter takes no prisoners | reviews, news & interviews

Jonathan Pie, Duke of York's Theatre review - spoof political reporter takes no prisoners

Jonathan Pie, Duke of York's Theatre review - spoof political reporter takes no prisoners

Tom Walker in a bravura display

Jonathan Pie's new show is a non-stop diatribe against dishonest or hypocritical politicians

If you don't like sweary comics – Jonathan Pie uses the c-word liberally – then this may not be the show for you. In fact if you're a Tory, ditto, because it is 70 minutes of political invective, taking aim at a rogues' gallery of senior Conservatives present and past. Oh, and the royal family get it in the neck too.

But first Pie – the creation of satirist Tom Walker – sashays on to the stage to salsa music, hinting that an offer from Strictly Come Dancing may be in the pipeline, with him fitting in the no-hoper middle-aged bloke role. It's the last bit of bonhomie we'll see all evening.

The set-up – such as it is – is that Pie, now "the senior deputy Westminster correspondent" of the BBC, is delivering a lecture on how he is trying to get young people interested in politics, as more than three million citizens will have a vote for the first time in the next general election. He has, of course, to be impartial – cue knowing look to the audience, returned with knowing laughter.

But he quickly goes off piste and it becomes a solid skewering of our political leaders. Pie lays into the super-rich Rishi Sunak, previously (and future, one assumes) a hedge fund manager. He's an easy target, as is Liz Truss – but Pie can turn a choice phrase too, describing the Conservative Party's journey of prime ministers from Winston Churchill to Truss as “from champagne to cat's piss”. Truss, of course, is yesterday's woman and some of Pie's targets left frontline politics some while ago, but his overarching argument, that British politics is riven with morons, chancers and grifters, is made with élan, and at length, with some ferocity.

Deep into this show, liberal/left/progressive types in the audience may be feeling they're firmly on the right side of history. But they shouldn't get too comfortable, because Pie turns on a sixpence and deliciously mows through any liberal smugness, hoisting himself by his own petard.

He lets slip some of his own failings, not least that he started his career on the state-funded Russia Today channel (as the character did indeed do), so we don't know if Walker himself is fessing up, or he is still in character. His list of hypocrisies includes saying publicly that he cares about the environment but in private “can't be arsed” to recycle and, most heinously,  thinks that Sir David Attenborough may be just a teensy-weensy bit over-rated.

Pie neatly makes the point that we all have our price and, as the show's title Heroes & Villains suggests, that we may have a little bit of both in us. But some in public life, the comic argues, have no redeeming features and deserve the contempt he showers on them. It's delivered throughout at a rifling pace and is a bravura display.

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