Kevin Toolis‘ The Confessions of Gordon Brown is playing at The Old Court House on Church St and I went along to the 2pm show on Sunday. This monologue debuted at the Edinburgh Festival in July, moved down to London and then to Brighton for three days to take advantage of the sea air and the Labour Party Conference.
Toolis starts as he means to go on with Ian Grieve playing Gordon Brown ranting and pontificating on power, betrayal and how his leadership was made impossible by fools, bastards and everybody else in the world. With a keen eye for bathos Toolis has Brown contemplating Napoleon and then defining the prerequisites of political leadership as hair, height and teeth (for a smile). Grieve’s portrayal of Brown is the one we have grown to accept from numerous TV comedy shows. Angry and arrogant Grieve carries the audience easily and is funny from the start. The blurb claims that that Toolis based the monologue on extensive interviews and research with figures close to Brown and the picture that emerges is of a capable and hardworking politician, destined for great things but betrayed by Tony Blair and consequently eaten up by his thwarted ambition. The play was entertaining and thought provoking especially near the end where Brown muses on the role of a leader as little more than a figurehead to allow the public to believe that someone is in control.
After the Sunday evening show Kevin Toolis was joined by Dan Hodges of The Daily Telegraph, Quentin Letts of the Dail Mail and Iain Dale, publisher of Damian McBride‘s controversial new book about the new Labour years. A discussion took place and questions were taken. The general feeling seemed to be that Gordon Brown did have a moral streak but that, in practical terms, he was no more moral than Blair. The seediness and spin that surrounded New Labour was a tone set by Blair and Brown and that Brown’s failure was to define himself as an alternative to Blair.
The Confessions of Gordon Brown runs at the Old Court House from 22nd to 24th September 2013. Tickets are £15.