Sometimes a show comes along which is perfect for our current times. Brexit the Musical is one of those shows. Following sell-out runs at the Canal Cafe and the Waterloo East Theatre, and a very special performance at the House of Commons immediately after the Article 50 vote, this hit show comes to the OSO from the 7th-11th February.
For writer David Shirreff, performing at the OSO is like coming home. This is David’s 4th musical dealing with recent political and financial crises, following ‘Broke Brittania’, ‘Eurocrash!’ and ‘Barack and the Beanstalk’, all of which were performed at the OSO. Brexit the Musical, Shirreff’s sharpest and most relevant play to date, itself started life at a scratch night here last season. Shirreff also sees the Barnes community as the perfect audience for the show. Intelligent, educated and politically aware, Barnes residents have a healthy degree of scepticism regarding the fallout of the June referendum, whilst having a unique appreciation of satire, as the success of last season’s Force of Trump showed.
Inspired by the shock and confusion following the referendum result, Shirreff found the behaviour of our politicians so bizarre and comedic that he knew it would make for a perfect musical. He started writing immediately, and by mid-July had a few scenes drafted, enough for an impromptu read-through at a friend’s wedding in a rural Italian farmhouse. The show’s reception there convinced Shirreff that the musical had the legs to be a success. He teamed up with musicians Frederick Appleby and Russell Sarre, with whom he had collaborated on his previous political musicals and, inspired by their mutual love of Gilbert & Sullivan and shared bemusement at the fallout of the referendum, they refined Shirreff’s initial scenes into a truly special musical.
Like all good satires, the show is firmly rooted in the truth, though with a healthy dose of hyperbole. We kick off in September 2014, immediately following the Scottish referendum, when Cameron and Osbourne thought that they could achieve a similar result, and quickly move to Brussels, where Cameron meets EU Eurocrats (including a very drunk Juncker) to attempt to secure a deal. On his return, the dissent begins, and Boris, Gove, Farage and Ian Duncan Smith all enter the picture. However, Shirreff is keen to point out that the show isn’t malicious- whilst parodying the main players in the Brexit fiasco, he also tries to empathise with them. In particular, he was keen to ensure that the characters (and the actors playing them) take themselves seriously, as this is the root of the best comedy. As a result, the show is a hoot for Brexiteers and Remainers alike. It doesn’t take sides, it simply makes fun of the fallout of the vote which, no matter which way you voted, has clearly been a mess.
Brexit the Musical is already sold out for all but the Saturday matinee performance, so if you want to experience this hit production, which believe me you should, this is your last chance. Book now to avoid disappointment.