Who says politics is staged? Corbyn inspires new parliamentary parody
We British relish the chance to lampoon our political top brass... Tom Potter talks to a Suffolk satirist taking a swipe at the establishment with a stage musical
Until the Labour Party’s election defeat last May, few people outside his own constituency knew much about Jeremy Corbyn.
But the hitherto rank and file MP has since been thrown into the public gaze as the unlikely leader of the opposition – and soon-to-be subject of a Suffolk barrister’s satirical stage musical.
Rupert Myers, who grew up in Woodbridge and now shares his time between London and his home county, has embraced the time-old British tradition of sending up our politicians by co-writing a play inspired by Corbyn’s alleged affair with Labour ally Diane Abbott.
Mr Myers, 31, who also appears in print and on screens as a legal pundit, came up with the concept for Corbyn the Musical: the Motorcycle Diaries during a boozy conversation with university friend Bobby Friedman, whose uncle had postulated the idea.
The pair ran with it – and soon realised they had a potential hit on their hands – with news of the play causing such a flurry of interest that an initial one week London run was quickly extended to three – all before the cast had been auditioned.
Although Conservative by affiliation, Mr Myers said his intention was not to ridicule the Labour leader.
“He is a rare politician, in that he is not a media-managed non-personality,” he said. “As a conviction politician, unafraid to speak his mind, it makes him more interesting to the press and general public.
“He belongs to a small group, which includes Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson and John Prescott, that we could write a musical about. Had we written a musical about Liam Fox, for example, I don’t imagine many people would be as interested – other than perhaps Liam Fox.
“For a lot of people, Corbyn is new and compelling, and provides fresh meat for satire. He is a funny guy – sometimes unintentionally. The notion of renewing our nuclear submarines but not arming them kind of satirises itself.”
Auditions for roles begin this month, with the first show scheduled for April 12. Mr Myers and Mr Friedman, also writing partners on the Political Takeout podcast, already have a director and composer in place, along with a script and songs (allowing room for revisions).
First-time playwright, Mr Myers said: “We’re surprised by how much attention it has been given when no one knows much about the plot. We’ve been careful to keep that under wraps – we want to surprise the audience.
“I think it will be a fun show. Just the concept of this motorcycle journey with Diane Abbott seems to sound fun to people. How many are coming because they support Corbyn, I don’t know.
“He is fair game as the leader of the a political party – but audiences will find politician depicted of all stripes.
“We’re not sure he’s long for the job so had to rush to put the musical out.”
And if a call comes from the man himself requesting a place in the audience? “We would roll out the red carpet,” said Mr Myers.
The show sees Jeremy Corbyn facing a nuclear stand-off with Russian President Vladimir Putin. With pressure mounting on all sides, Corbyn has to face up to the biggest challenge of his career. But the solution lies in the story of the fateful motorbike holiday apparently taken by a young Corbyn and his then-lover Diane Abbott in 1970s pre-unification East Germany.
Featuring fictional appearances from Boris Johnson, Tony Blair and Ed Miliband amongst many others, Corbyn the Musical has been described as a cross between The Book of Mormon and The Thick of It.
It runs at the Waterloo East Theatre from April 12-30.