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Jonny and The Baptists: Eat The Poor – Review

Jonny and the Baptists - Eat the Poor - PR image 250 (image by Anna Soderblom)
Jonny and the Baptists – Eat the Poor – PR image 250 (image by Anna Soderblom)

Question: What do swans, Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tatler magazine all have in common?
Answer: They have all, in various ways, incurred the wrath of Jonny and The Baptists, aka musical comedy duo Jonny Donahoe and Paddy Gervers. And what awe-inspiring wrath it is – the subjects of their ire must be shaking in their boots under the relentless onslaught of gentle musical satire and unforgivable puns.

Politically motivated these boys may be, but militant they certainly are not. No frothy-mouthed raging here; instead we have rational commentary, punctuated with rib-achingly funny songs and seasoned with a healthy sprinkling of nonsense. Inspired by the jaw-dropping fact that the new Duke of Westminster, Hugh Grosvenor, managed to avoid paying almost any death duties on his father’s estate, the outraged pair have set about investigating the distribution of wealth in the UK. Their research does not seem to have been exhaustive, and some of their financial reasoning is a little naïve (although it does involve cake, which is a big plus), but there is no doubting their passion and commitment. The right, naturally, comes in for the lion’s share of their censure, though in the interest of political parity they make valiant efforts to find negative things to say about the Labour party too.

The first act is merely a series of skits and songs to whet our appetite for the second act which, they assure us, is a serious play – and a little weird. They’re not wrong; as they career into a dystopian future where Mika is popular again, the bees rule Scotland and we’ve all run out of dill, Jonny has entered into a spectacularly successful yet sinister collaboration with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Paddy has fallen on hard times and is sleeping rough. Now the campaign for the general weal becomes rather more specific; this is about friendship, about loyalty, about the love between the two of them, and as such it is extremely touching.

That’s what makes this show work, really. It is clever in its way, the music is well written and the lyrics are extremely funny; however, it is also slightly chaotic and not entirely original. And yet the beaming duo are so charming, so lunatic, so damned loveable that it is simply impossible not to fall under their spell. They are so attuned to each other that their interactions are almost telepathic, and they truly, honestly want to help the world to be a better place – even if only in a small way. And if making a few hundred people cry with laughter can be considered to be helping the world, and I really think that it should be, they have certainly succeeded.

As for their deeper message – well, maybe a handful of people left with the resolution to be a better person, and that’s no bad thing either. As for me, I’ll never forget their most important piece of advice: Don’t name your house after your wife. It leads to complications.

4 stars

Review by Genni Trickett

Three-quarters of MPs are millionaires. A third of the country lives below the poverty line. Whatever your politics, Jonny & the Baptists think it’s worth talking about.

A riotous and heartfelt musical comedy for our times, JONNY & THE BAPTISTS’ Edinburgh Fringe hit EAT THE POOR tours the UK in March-April-May 2017. With over 50 dates, their biggest ever schedule reflects growing national audiences from acclaimed shows and appearances on Radio 4’s The Now Show and BBC Live at Television Centre.

Created through extensive research travelling across the country in early 2016, the show combines contemporary satire and inventive musical silliness with an epic personal story. Setting out to explore the gap between rich and poor, Jonny & the Baptists’ lives turn upside down when Jonny betrays Paddy for financial gain. As Jonny enjoys the high life with Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jerry Hall, Paddy falls into homelessness and despair.

An toe-tapping comedy about inequality, homelessness and revolution in modern Britain, EAT THE POOR sees the multi-award-nominees continue to grow in scope and ambition – and even dabble in a small amount of actual economics. Continuing the company’s commitment to reach broad, diverse audiences, their biggest ever tour schedule takes in leading theatres, arts centres, rural venues, comedy clubs and festivals across the country.

50-date UK tour for the hit musical comedy about inequality, friendship & revolution
5 MARCH – 27 MAY 2017
Tour dates here http://www.supportingwall.com/

Author

  • Genni Trickett

    Genni is one of the senior reviewers for LondonTheatre1.com, contributing regularly with reviews for London and regional shows. Genni has been passionate about theatre from an early age, performing in various productions throughout school and university. She is currently an enthusiastic member of an amateur dramatic society in South West London. Her favourite thing about living in London is the breath-taking variety of shows and theatrical talent. https://www.facebook.com/genevieve.trickett

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