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Edinburgh Fringe 2016

Jonny and The Baptists – Eat The Poor

Jonny and The Baptists

Genre: Musical Theatre, Political

Venue: Summerhall (Roundabout)


Low Down

Anarchic, absurdist and downright silly, with a sting in this whirlwind exposé of the political issue of the moment – inequality.


Remember the time back in 2009 when David Cameron, our erstwhile Prime Minister, forgot how many houses he owned? Well, I suppose it’s difficult to keep track of what’s what when it’s all tied up in offshore trusts, companies located in obscure tax havens or held by nominees. That’s the very amusing starting point for Jonny (Donahoe) and the Baptist’s (Paddy Gervers) wild, anarchic, acerbic, droll, dry, satirical look at the state of the nation, with a particular focus on inequality.

Inequality is proving a popular theme at the 2016 Fringe, with a number of other acts homing in on a topic that is, after all, made for satire and worse. But, such is the subtlety, charm and humour of this double act’s approach to the topic, that those being lampooned (and there are many of the great and good on both the left and right of the political spectrum who take a battering) could probably watch this and keep a smile on their face.

Warming to the task, they imagine a future in which Jonny has sold his soul to the Lloyd-Webber empire to produce a string of hit musicals whilst Gervers ends up busking in the gutter. Cue groans all-round at the string of puns involving the Lloyd-Webber name and some wonderfully near-the-knuckle digs at leading lights in some of our rather jingoistic tabloids. There’s a homage to that well-known good-time read for the poor, The Tatler (available from all good newsagents in Kensington, dwarling) and a wonderfully worked running gag with a large sponge cake. There’s even a dig at theatre reviewers and the wonderful things they are going to write about this show – in the future, of course.

Inherited wealth and its threat to societal harmony together with the farce that is the tax credit system are all clinically dismantled in cleverly rhyming, sung couplets and the denouement is both amusing and alarmingly sensible, if never likely to come to pass.

What you’ve got here is two really good singers with a needle-sharp sense of wit and an unerring ability to get across a really serious issue in a manner that’s thought provoking and silly at the same time. What an interesting alternative they’d be to our currently unelected Prime Minister and Chancellor. A real “must see” of the Fringe.