Hell Yes I’m Tough Enough review at Park Theatre, London – ‘risible political satire’
It has often been said that the current political omnishambles has rendered the art of satire dead. This risible offering from Ben Alderton would seem to confirm it.
Placing his focus on the coalition of 2010-15, Alderton paints some cartoonishly broad caricatures of Messrs Cameron, Clegg and Miliband in Hell Yes I’m Tough Enough. The former, who he plays himself, is a sexist, racist public school bully named David Carter. Clegg becomes Clog (James Bryant), a brainless lapdog, while Miliband is a weak-willed lost soul named Ned Contraband (Ben Hood) who is more in thrall to a yogic guru than his political principles.
Attempting to prop them all up are a team of hectoring advisers, including bright young newcomer Patrick (Mikhail Sen), who is as close as the play gets to a three-dimensional character. There is also the spirit of Jeremy Corbyn masquerading as Obi Wan Kenobi. Don’t ask me why.
The play is crazily overwritten. It says nothing in two and a half hours that couldn’t be said in 60 minutes. Or, for that matter, six. Director Roland Reynolds should never have allowed it to drag on so long.
As well as clumsily missing its intended targets, it is also deeply problematic in its handling of offensive language. At one point Carter makes a reference to a character called Nigel Garage (see what they did there?) as being “like an autistic Furby”. He also makes several racist jibes towards Patrick, such as calling him “Punjabi MC”. I get that this is meant to be a comedy, but never is this rhetoric challenged and never does Carter get a fitting comeuppance.
The effort to bring more satire to our stages is commendable. But frankly when it’s as poor as this, it does more harm than good. The fact anyone let this dog’s dinner reach a paying audience is the biggest joke of all.
We need your help…
When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.
The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.
We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.
Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.