Saturday, 27 April 2019

REVIEW: Hell Yes I’m Tough Enough at the Park Theatre


Everyday we are subjected on TV and Radio to the embarrassing spectacle of our failed politicians in endless circular debates over Brexit which demonstrates the failure of the political classes. Coalitions in hung parliaments are impossible to operate unless there is a genuine unifying goal and most people seem to feel the two party system has fallen out of favour. Where did this catastrophic state of affairs arise from?

This new play by Ben Alderton "Hell I'm tough enough" takes us back just a few years to the 2015 election campaign at the end of the Tory/Lib Dem coalition, in an outrageous parody of the main players in that campaign. It is so obvious it is almost libellous. 

Dave Carter is the champagne swilling Eton educated conservative leader , Nick Clog, his partner in crime and opposite them is Ned Contraband, the paper thin leader of the Labour Party. Unseen is the threat of Nigel Garage of the Ukrap party. But the political leaning of the author is clear with the mysterious Obi wan kenobi figure, Corbz, who seeks to guide and comment on the protagonists between scenes while sweeping up the popular vote and emerging butterfly like from his chrysalis at the end. 

The problem is that we learn nothing from the play and the current daily state of affairs puts politicians beyond parody - it is no longer funny. As a result we have a rather puerile extended student sketch, constantly offensive and largely unfunny. References to "pork pies in synagogues", addressing the political adviser as Punjabi, Gandhi or tanned , describing No 10 as "a strip club on acid " or the PM as "like the sphincter, deciding how much shit to keep in or give out" all seem crude and dated. The opening word association game might seem clever on paper but it feels little more than a sketch dropped from "that was the week that was" many years ago.

It is necessarily played at a frenetic over the top pace with plenty of wild facial expressions and physical interactions. Ben Alderton as the manic snob Carter and Ben Hood as the wide eyed stupid Contraband reminded me of Basil and Manuel from Fawlty Towers which they presumably borrowed from the dinner show both actors performed in. As one character says "the Chuckle brothers have a better chance of running the country" but whether that is true or not they would have been funnier. 

Only Annie Tyson as Glyniss, "call me Gilly after two glasses of white wine" plays
it straight and therefore most successfully as the power behind the PM while Will, played by Michael Edwards is the over top hippy life coach to Contraband looking like a leftover from the sixties.

This is an assassination of the recent political leaders Ed, Dave and Nick which depending on your political standpoint may or may not be justified but the quality of the writing and the insight it offers into British politics does not justify two and half hours in a theatre. You would be better off watching a rerun of last night's highly charged Question Time on BBC with actor John Rhys-Davis to get a real comical insight into the political challenge this country faces today.

Review by Nick Wayne 

Rating: ★

Seat: Unreserved | Price of Ticket: £18
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