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Fringe Review: A Very Brexit Musical @ Just the Tonic

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This year at the Edinburgh Fringe, CG Productions’ A Very Brexit Musical provides a melancholy thorn in a student political satire, instead of encouraging a soothing cackle from its audience.

If you’re at all anxious over Brexit, laughter is a recommended therapy and this show is as light-hearted and fun as you might expect from such a parody. But when Joris Bohnson disappears, the performance as a whole loses its comic stability and you’re just left with Dimbleby’s reminder that “we’re out”, and still a bit clueless.

Images courtesy of CG Productions

Created by Molly Cook and Musical director Anthony Gray of the University of Cambridge, the show recognises and banks on the UK’s tender political feelings, beginning with a striking red backdrop of UKIP’S Leave campaign bus slogan – the ominous claim that “350 million” is gifted to the EU every year lingers over every musical number and granted, every other message or gag is similarly not lacking any subtlety. 

The original production follows a newly qualified and bewildered journalist Peter, played by Rory Russell, who leads with an affable and somewhat dazed presence. Peter plummets into the comical and unhinged world of journalism at the Maily Dail and must decide what his moral and political leanings are; which side he is on and what does each side actually stand for, whilst his eccentric boss rules his career and sense of self.

Peter’s office sweetheart, Jen, played Emily Webster, lacks the same desire to change the system of fake news, and there lies the thorn in the rose. Tender moments between Russell and Macmillan are timidly touching – the timidity is endearing, though their vocals at times become tied up in the nerves of their characters.

The punchlines in this satirical musical dissipate, both in song and in the dialogue, but the child-like Joris Bohnson played by Freddie Raymond resurrects the laughs over a topic that in truth might still be a worry for some Fringe-goers. In a playful song where Joris desires to be PM, wearing a fluorescent visibility vest and matching yellow helmet, he prances around carelessly on stage with a goofy charisma unlike any other politician you’ve seen before, that’s to say if you find yourself confusing the term illusion with allusion. 

It’s easy for new caricatured political musical numbers to be overshadowed by the settled and comically sharp productions on the Fringe scene such as Canal Café’s NewsRevue, and yet the retrospective element of the student show does provide you with known politicians with flamboyant twist.

Mheresa Tay played by Jessica Phillips is risqué and troublesome with her pointy leather boots, two piece suit and corset. In song, a defeated Cavid Dameron (Alex Hancock), accompanied by a sympathetic band, ponders about his “poor, little” self, living a tough life of sitting in an office whilst being seduced by Tay and having his problems dealt with by anyone that isn’t actually him. 

Prime Minister Theresa May’s fleeting visit to Edinburgh may have caused a heckle or two in and around Scotland last week, but many residents and visitors may feel an injustice if they didn’t have the opportunity to heckle a member of parliament. 'A Very Brexit Musical' supplies punters the chance to retrieve their right to ridicule the ridiculousness of Brexit, even if Cavid Dameron manages to convincingly sweep you into feelings of sympathy and nostalgia, rather than being the reason for your bellows of laughter.

'A Very Brexit Musical' is running at Just the Tonic at La Belle Angele until August 26th, and more info can be found here.

This article is part of our coverage of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Click here to read other articles written by our contributors. 
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