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Living Newspaper: Edition 3
Royal Court Theatre, London
THE ROYAL COURT’S innovatory revival of the Living Newspaper tradition, established in the US years of the Great Depression, is now settled into an assured format, with an ensemble cast of 15 presenting a kaleidoscope of sketches written by 14 writers.
They take online audiences on a daily satirical journey which explores the approaching world of “getting back to normal.”
Following the format of the popular press, the content includes a catchy musical extravaganza Front Page with a laboured Borisian headline metaphor “The Crocus of Hope is Poking Through,” underpinned by a threatening chorus of “Fuck the machine, Catastrophe reigns!”
A Weather Room forecast has a beguiling sea nymph tourist guide taking us on a visit to an undersea museum full of human detritus, exhibiting the delights of where all things eventually come to die.
Back on terra firma, Everyman Machiavelli Spike offers a useful self-help blog A Fascist’s Guide to Democracy where, if you want to know more, “click on the link and pay a small subscription fee to my shell account in the Cayman Islands.”
In The News Stand the brilliant drag queen, the bubbling Sharon Le Grand, is dressed in newsprint and emerges from her subterranean world to trek all the way through the sewers “to get here, Sloane bloody Square.”
Slumped in a grotty corner at the back of the Royal Court, Agony Edgar delivers his final down-and-out junky advice to anxious questioners, bringing a lifetime’s experience to bear in helping Rosie overcome her reluctance to be vaccinated owing to her needle phobia.
Before leaving us and life he gives his final summing up: “No-one cares, even God doesn’t give a monkey.”
At times, one could believe that the Almighty has seen Sami Ibrahim’s Cartoon of the Week, The Foreign Invasion — or Boris Johnson taking control of things — an updating of Gilray’s notorious cartoon depiction of a grotesque George III shitting on the French.
Here, our own clown-in-charge lavatorially targets all and sundry.
Although monologues predominate, there are some fine developed playlets. She Blows Ltd, set in a hair salon, turns the platitudinous conversation between customers and those wielding the combs and scissors into a black comedy with a nod towards Sweeney Todd.
Belying the high professionalism of the talented cast and all concerned, there is a joyous ad hockery in this celebratory pageant of our present world and the one we can expect post-Covid.
Online until April 11, royalcourttheatre.com
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