Wednesday, 15 June 2022

REVIEW: Tony! (The Tony Blair Rock Opera) at the Park Theatre

Staging a rock opera about the ups and downs of an individual's life, you’d expect a name that raises eyebrows. Whether you deem Tony Blair that name, it certainly raises an eyebrow or two. Tony! (The Tony Blair Rock Opera) tells the story of a man’s journey from band frontman to the prime minister and the subsequent warmongering that followed! 

Let’s start by getting straight to it, the show is bonkers. The over-the-top ridiculousness allows it to not be taken seriously and enables it to get away with the on-the-mark gags it throws around throughout the show. The cast does a good job of over-dramatising their characters and the political figures they all portray, making it comical and never too serious. A few standouts were Cherie Blair (Holly Sumpton), Peter Mandelson (Howard Samuels), John Prescott (Rosie Strobel) and finally of course the titular character, Tony Blair (Charlie Baker). Each life to their roles and always stole the eyesight whenever they took to the stage. Combined with Libby Watson’s set and costume design, topped off with the combination of comedic duo Harry Hill (Book) and Steve Brown (lyrics and composer) you have all the right ingredients to cook up something hilarious. 

However, the use of the politically comical songs one after the other begins to feel repetitive and starts to lose its hilarity after a while. Though the word ‘hilarity’ is an interesting one as there were funny, not laugh-out-loud moments. Perhaps it’s a personal opinion (yes it’s a review and meant to be such) but a look around the room when the jokes are delivered showed a mixture of responses.

With an intimate space such as the Park Theatre, you always find yourself wondering how the actors will make use of the space, director Peter Rowe makes excellent use of this, it’s well spaced and filled with lovely transitions through characters as they navigate the stage. 

It’s a show that simply put, is ok. There’s nothing bad about it in the sense you’re hating it, but also nothing that makes you feel blown away. A kind of in the middle doesn’t get it right but doesn’t get it wrong. 

Review by George Butler

Rating: ★★★

Seat: Stalls B4 | Price of Ticket: £25
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