Edinburgh Fringe 2023
A new political party is to be launched and we are all invited as now former Conservative Party MP, now the Preservative Party MP, Babs Romance, packs her political punch. Through her speech and the video work telling the tale of her political career, we are entertained and enthused by a woman on a mission. That it may include homage to George Michael and an unhealthy relationship towards a Gove and a Starmer comes as part of one political party package.
Once settled, the screen erupts in front of us with Babs’ story and the scandal which led us to here and now. Her unpalatable political opinions are told with enthusiasm, and it serves as a fantastic backdrop to why it is that Babs Romance now finds herself looking towards political pastures new with a desire, not wholesome, for some form of pact with Sir Keir.
That mixture of video footage and political badinage is very much part of a package that suggests scandal hit politicians and certainly references much of the recent COVID past. It’s very clever and satirical, as well as cutting right through the bone. It really works well as we get the idea of politics in its usual venues – House of Commons, politicians being chased for comment, the impromptu press conference outside the house etc., etc.
What works slightly less well, for me, is the fixation with George Michael. I found much of that to verge on the indulgent, but to be fair to Babs, I was never the target. Round me people lapped it up. The response from the audience was massively enthusiastic, and whilst I was never offended, it successfully spoke to a constituency that should be engaged with it as a topic and subject matter. I was happy to feel educated.
Technically, aside from one wee glitch everything appeared to work on point, and we got the video when it was needed, and the music and songs were fantastic. Babs was an enthusiastic dancer and the whole dance sequence was well thought through and well executed.
In terms of the structure, it was a perfect piece of stage management – the press conference, though it did become slightly archaic at times – it kept close enough to the point that by the end, this character driven embodiment of political 21st century British politics, hit more than she missed.
It is here that I felt there was success not plundered. The idea of someone managing to launch a political party which has the legs, and the corsets, to run for some form of shadow office appeals. When people talk of satire being dead because politics itself is its own satirical version of itself, this is what they are missing. Sharp wit with acutely observed nonsense is what is needed and here we get that in abundance.
I left more than amused and hopeful that there would be a second press conference in the coming days – no matter what the country is suffering from – a bit of Babs would really do it good!