Monster Raving Loony

Published May 18, 2016

What’s it all about?

The life and times of British politics’ most colourful character – and that’s saying something! – Screaming Lord Sutch, the founder of the Monster Raving Loony party who was eager to poke fun at the political elite.

In keeping with Sutch’s anarchic, comic persona, each scene takes its inspiration from a comedy icon of yesteryear, leaping from panto to Partridge via Monty Python, Blackadder, Pete & Dud and a host more.

Who’s in it?

Samuel James is sensational as Sutch. While pulling off passable impersonations of Tommy Cooper, Eric Morecombe and myriad more, flitting between comic characters like a one man embodiment of Gold’s TV listings, he retains the fragile heart of Sutch. Despite the ridiculousness, this Sutch is a man devoted to his Mum, desperate for acceptance, hungering fame and haunted by depression. As ever, there’s a thin line between comedy and tragedy.

Almost as impressive are the supporting cast, with Joe Alessi switching from the perfect panto Dame to a perfect Alf Garnett and Joanne Brookes delivering a spot on Su Pollard.

What should I look out for?

The party bag sitting ominously on your seat when you enter the auditorium through a gold lame ribboned curtain. Yes, there will be audience participation. You will be needed to bang a pan or rattle some spoons. You may even win at bingo. Put the party hat on and embrace it.

The best use of a Maggie Thatcher puppet since Billy Elliot The Musical.

The rather astute political points made by the ever-dependable James Graham mixed subtly and powerfully into the raucous fun and personal tale.

In a nutshell?

Hilarious, entertaining, bonkers with an undercurrent of sadness, like all the best sitcoms, Monster Raving Loony is a Hi-De-Hit.

What’s being said on Twitter?

Will I like it?

As a playwright, James Graham has a remarkable hit rate. The Vote… The Angry Brigade… Privacy… This House. Monster Raving Loony, as bonkers as it is, hits the spot again. It presses the great big fluffy nostalgia button that’ll have you chortling with recognition as you identify each skit. It tells a genuinely touching story of one of life’s great characters. It puts a big old arm around its audience to make them feel welcome while also pointing out the hypocrisy of politics. I suggest you put the party hat on and embrace it.

Monster Raving Loony plays at the Soho Theatre until 18 June. You can book tickets through the theatre’s website.