A day can be a long time in politics these days, let alone a week, let alone the amount of time it took for this show to get from first draft to full production, a point acknowledged by the production team, which keeps in at least one quip about a former Cabinet minister. As it goes down like a lead balloon, it’s immediately followed by an aside to the audience, explaining that it was amusing when it was written, but is now dated. When Yes, Prime Minister played in the West End, and more recently, Idiots Assemble: Spitting Image The Musical, both shows underwent several rewrites, even while the shows were still running, to accommodate the ever-changing times.
It must be rather challenging to come up with a political comedy – after all, these days, bemusement at political (in)activity can be easily found by watching television news or working one’s way through a news website. A backbench MP, only identified as Sam (Arianna Gallenzi), has been kidnapped by a constituent (at the performance I attended, Niall Humphryes – the two actors swap roles at each performance) who couldn’t simply attend one of her surgeries as they are apparently fully booked for the next two years. At the risk of indulging in pedantry, this, of course, would mean, at the time of writing, there are somehow surgeries already scheduled until after the next General Election, which seems presumptuous to say the least, though there seems to be a pun on ‘surgeries’ and long NHS waiting lists.
Set entirely in the constituent’s front room, the offer of some water is the catalyst to un-taping the MP’s mouth, and therefore some dialogue between the two on-stage characters. Some of the narrative details are more than a little contrived – how does he have decent phone signal in the room but she has none at all (and therefore, the character known only as ‘Holder’ continues to keep his ‘Captive’ for a little while longer)? What starts off as a conversation, however, soon develops into something of a rant – and while I don’t disagree with the constituent’s sentiments, the play, brief as it is, becomes a cathartic release of miscellaneous frustrations with the Government and various injustices in British society, with little nuance, if any.
Indeed, the play would have been rather longer if it really wanted to get stuck into current affairs and shocking behaviour in public life (the recent ITV mini-series Mr Bates vs The Post Office is close to four hours long all by itself, for instance). Here, the constituent’s own gripes are mostly centred around his family life, and the struggle to stay financially afloat in the face of the cost of living crisis: the adults in the house skip meals so their children can have at least something to eat every day.
The actors work well together, and while the contrasting opposites are neatly clichéd – the parliamentarian who has all sorts of expenses paid for, the constituent who, well, doesn’t – the broad brushstrokes of the story are relatable for many. If you’re after some escapism, this isn’t, in more than one sense, the show to go for. If you’re angry at the Government, however, you’ll find some affirmation here.
Review by Chris Omaweng
A Proper Working-Class Sausage Roll is a comedy play that follows a character known only as ‘Holder’ who has accidentally kidnapped a back bench Member of Parliament during a wild moment of psychosis after buying a Sausage Roll. Fed up with the way the system works, Holder tries to educate the captured politician on their experiences of life. However, Captive’s attempts to debate their way out of Holder’s custardy leads them down a wild path that exposes the privilege, corruption and idiocy that exists at the heart of the Government, all amongst some sexual innuendo and references to baked savoury goods. The question is, can Holder and Captive find common ground and put an end to the kidnapping? This is a show that will leave the audience crying with laughter and begging for a sausage roll.
Cast and Creatives
Jamie Holland (Co-Producer)
Arianna Gallenzi (Cast)
Niall Humphryes (Cast)