Edinburgh Fringe 2022
High energy political satire mixed with brilliant observational comedy from a master storyteller.
Alistair Barrie is angry. Angry at the state of the UK after more than a decade of Tory misrule. Angry that our obsession with wokeness is diverting attention from the critical issues facing humanity. Angry that lockdown turned his kids feral and they now show more respect to their primary school and nursery teachers than they do their “house-Dad”.
With the pandemic forcing an unscheduled overnight change of career direction – famous comedian performing all over the planet to locked down house-Dad forced to clean up large amounts of toddler poo on an hourly basis – it’s been a while since Barrie has been able to vent his spleen in his engaging, charismatic style. But with the pandemic past us, he’s finally free to get things off his chest, and particularly things to do with the way the country is being run. Or not, as the case maybe.
Barrie lets slip that his show was originally scripted as a tirade calling for that blond, incorrigible purveyor of optimism and truth to fall on his sword and let someone with a modicum of humility and competence try and put things right. But a month before the show went up, Boris was kicked out, necessitating a complete rewrite.
BJ still gets plenty of stick though – it would have been a tragedy had all Barrie’s sniper-like satire ended up on the cutting room floor – and, as he points out, BJ’s likely successor is a comedic goldmine, at least judging from her remarks over the past few weeks.
Whilst this hugely entertaining and exquisitely crafted hour of comedy focuses on the wrecking ball effect of the Boris chumocracy, Barrie also hits (admittedly easy) targets of the male, pale, stale brigade who exhibit that quintessentially southern English sense of entitlement, anyone (including his parents) who believes what they read in the Daily Torygraph, several dangerous dictators and residents of the Isle of Wight.
Barrie’s act is a polished gem, honed through years of working out what makes us laugh. Pacey, full of energy and delightful comic timing mark this out as a Fringe highlight for anyone looking for an hour of cerebral, cleverly scripted humour. Accents are spot on, characters nicely formed. And stick a blond wig on him and it could be Boris standing in front of you with the mike – a frightening thought.
With a well-crafted political wrap inviting you to “vote Alistaircratic” and a cutting song called “The Oligarch Blues” thrown in for good measure, this is about as good as it gets, even reading like a credible alternative manifesto to those currently being paraded before that exclusive club who get to elect the UK’s next leader.
If you’re “true-blue”, Brexit loving, privately educated and wealthy you might want to steer clear of shows like this. However, for the rest of us, this is an hour of well-crafted satire that’s highly recommended. And it’s free too. Well, sort of.