The Confessions of Gordon Brown

Posted by Laurence Green

The sold out political play at last year’s Edinburgh International Festival is coming to the Ambassadors Theatre. satire is all the rage this year in the theatre and following the success of The Duck Pond and Handbagged, we now have The Confessions of Gordon Brown (Ambassadors Theatre) , written and directed by Kevin Toolis, which was premiered at last year’s Edinburgh International Festival.

Brown was one of the longest serving and most successful Chancellors of the Exchequer in British history and his three year reign as Prime Minister was sorely tested by the greatest world economic crisis since the 1930s Great Depression. Reviled or adored Gordon Brown is a hugely dominant figure in the rise and fall of three New Labour governments.

This one-man show starring Ian Grieve is a fictionalised account that attempts to gain an insight into the former minister’s personality, behaviour and attitudes. The satire encompasses anti-Tory swipes, a biting diatribe against Tony Blair and the stab-in the back plotting and the betrayals of politicians trying to come to terms with constantly shifting views of the public.

While the show provides an intriguing insight into a man who tried for so long to make his way to the top of the political ladder, Toolis’s script is not so much a confession but a repeat of old news. Over the course of 90 minutes (without an interval) we are given jokes (“British politics is like Hollywood for f...... gnomes!” and opinions of events with which we are already familiar and soon it becomes tiresome.

But Ian Grieve manages to capture Brown’s mannerisms even if there is only a slight physical resemblance. Behind all the jokes about Alastair Darling’s eyebrows and references to Kirkcaldy he reveals the bleakness of the script as we see a man who is more aware that he is losing the hearts and votes of the public but still determined to remain in power. Grieve is at his most poignant when recounting the details of Brown’s early years, like the unfortunate rugby accident that left him with detached retina and the last time he can remember actually carrying money.

In all then Grieve succeeds in showing Brown’s human side but one just wishes the humour could have been sharper and funnier.

Runs until July 30
Box office: 0844 8112 334

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