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Review: TONY! [The Tony Blair Rock Opera] at Pleasance at EICC - Ed Fringe

Review by Tatum Stafford

Even as a young Australian, with limited knowledge of previous British Prime Ministers, ‘TONY!’ was an absolute delight, and a shining example of the UK’s thriving and hilarious creatives.

The show follows Tony’s life, from all the way from birth (yes, really) to his supposed death bed. Along the way, he encounters all the key players in his life, including other politicians, his wife Cherie, foreign leaders like Saddam Hussein and Princess Diana. The show endeavours to answer a few questions, like was Tony really as bad as he was portrayed by the media? Or did he make a few bad decisions along the way, like any other human would?

The cast of this show are top tier. Jack Whittle as Tony Blair is a revelation – there isn’t one moment he is on stage that you’ll catch him without a hilarious facial expression plastered on his face. His vocals and comic timing were perfect, and he was a captivating lead. I also loved supporting actors Martin Johnson and Howard Samuels, who played Neil Kinnock and Peter Mandelson, amongst a slew of other characters (Johnson’s George Bush was a crowd favourite and had a cracking song). Both were committed to the bit, and nailed their numerous comic beats.

Other standouts included Tori Burgess’ Cherie Blair, who was absolutely hilarious, Phil Sealey’s Gordon Brown, who nailed his characterisation, and Emma Jay Thomas’ Princess Diana, which was spot-on. The ‘People’s Princess’ number was fantastic. Kudos also to Rosie Strobel (John Prescott), Sally Cheng (Robin Cook) and William Hazel (onstage cover) for rounding out the ensemble with beautiful vocals.

The script is hilariously sharp, and music is very catchy with witty lyrics abound. Writers Harry Hill and Steve Brown have created some magical moments, in particular, the closing song, which was my favourite in the whole show. Without spoiling it, you can expect some tongue-in-cheek references to other infamous leaders, and a cliffhanger moment that brought the whole show to a very memorable ending.

One of my favourite things about this production was its choreography, particular in its onstage sex scene (which perhaps elicited the most laughs from the audience in the entire show), and a boxing ring scene between Tony and Gordon. Props to Francesca Jayne’s choreography here, and also in dance numbers throughout, and to director Peter Rowe for creating such visually enjoying moments throughout.

The Pentland Theatre at the EICC is the perfect venue for this show, and I’m sure it will be chocked full of Fringe-goers by the time word gets out about how hilarious it is. Don’t miss out!

Image Supplied


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