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Interview with Samuel James who reprises his role as Screaming Lord Sutch

Monster Raving LoonySamuel James reprises his role as Screaming Lord Sutch in Monster Raving Loony by James Graham, which opens at Soho Theatre on 17th May running until 18th June 2016. 

With its UK première earlier this year at The Drum, Theatre Royal Plymouth’s fast-paced, hilarious and (slightly) bonkers Monster Raving Loony brings its party fun and punkish anarchy to Soho Theatre. Using the life and exploits of Screaming Lord Sutch to examine the state of the nation and Britain’s post-war identity crisis, Samuel James reprises his critically acclaimed role as Sutch, a ventriloquist channelling the cultural voices around him.

Seen through the eyes of this one extraordinary man, James Graham displays his playwriting virtuosity and in his forensic, sardonic, finger on the pulse style, tells the story of Sutch through a cavalcade of comic characters from music hall to Monty Python, panto to Partridge. Can our British sense of humour begin to uncover who we are, where we have been and where we might be going next?

Samuel recently took time out to chat about Monster raving Loony.

You are reprising your role of Screaming Lord Sutch in the forthcoming London transfer.
What can you tell us about the character you play?
Sutch was a working-class man trying to find his place in the World. He fronted the rock band The Savages, DJ’d a pirate radio station and formed two other political parties (The National Teenage and Go To Blazes Parties) before forming what he was to become most famous for – The Monster Raving Loony Party. He was the longest-serving – and officially the least successful – leader of a British Political Party ever!!

What is the story within Monster Raving Loony?
It’s about Sutch – and Britain as a whole – trying to find an identity in a massively changing world, told in a unique (and very funny) way through the medium of classic post-war comedy ranging from Hancock, Pete and Dud, the Carry On films and Monty Python right up to Only Fools and Horses, Alan Partridge and Absolutely Fabulous.

What research do you do when portraying a ‘real’ character?
The familiar image of Sutch in his leopard print jacket, rosettes and top hat is one thing, but we don’t actually get to see who (we think) he really was until the very end of the play. It may sound odd but after reading up on as much information as I could on the man himself, the majority of my research was on how to accurately tell his story as over 30 very well known comedy characters…. YouTube was extremely helpful!!

How important is a London transfer and what does it mean to you?
It’s fantastic. We all felt so proud of this production after its initial run in Plymouth and I feel very privileged to be given the opportunity to keep telling his story.

With so much to see in London why should everyone get along to see Monster Raving Loony?
A story that is more relevant today than ever, told with classic comedy, songs, washboards, puppets, a panto dame and party hats. It’s a cracking night out!

Sat 14 May – Sat 18 Jun 2016, 7pm (2.30pm Sat matinees)
Running Time: 1hr 40m approx
Age Recommendation: 12+
Soho Theatre
21 Dean Street
London W1D 3NE


  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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