Idiots Assemble : Spitting Image Saves the World

"Idiots Assemble, a cleverly titled show, with eye watering humour and incredible puppetry"

An evening watching King Charles III singing ‘We Will Rule You’, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak dressed as a school boy and Carrie Johnson dancing with 4 very large penises……..I could only have been watching Spitting Image Live!

Us of a certain age remember the highly successful TV programme from the 1980’s and its anarchic look at politics and the world of celebrity.  This show is certainly not for the faint hearted and the easily offended, but I guess if you know of Spitting Image then you’ll know that only too well.

Idiots Assemble brings the incredible puppets to life courtesy of writers Al Murray, Matt Forde and Sean Foley who also directs.  There is nothing off limits and it really is a riotous evening. Political satire is not one of my strong points, but even I found the show to be hilarious with it’s many digs at plenty of political figures, I mean it’s hard not to at the moment with our Government, however it’s never one sided with many laughs at the expense of both Prime Minster Rishi Sunak and Leader of the Labour Party Keir Starmer.

The premise of the live show is for the ‘fabric of society’ (a stained pair of y-fronts) to be saved.  King Charles III sets out to find a crack team of celebrities to help.  We first meet Sir Ian McKellen, a puppet of small stature who is instantly recognisable if not from the look, but also the voice. There are 12 voiceover artists in total who absolutely nail each and every impression, however it’s no surprise when it’s the likes of Debra Stephenson, Jess Robinson and Matt Forde providing the many celebrity voices.

Each and every puppet is incredible with no doubt of who they are meant to be. Throughout the evening we meet the likes of Ant & Dec, Stormzy, Adele, Tyson Fury, Tom Cruise, and my personal favourite Brummie icon Alison Hammond.  I am unsure which of the voiceover artists provided the voice for Alison, however it was absolutely spot on and provided some of the loudest laughs of the evening.

The many Puppeteers are the real stars of the show, providing the legs for each puppet and bringing them completely to life with incredible mannerisms. Testament to each and every one of them, as throughout the show you almost forget they are there and that you are watching a real life puppet on stage!  They provided wonderful moments and should be applauded for their physicality and unwavering energy.

There were many highlights throughout the show, however being a musical theatre fan, the inclusion of a Lin Manuel Miranda puppet, Vladimir Putin singing and dancing to ‘Putin on the Blitz’ to the tune of ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’ and Boris Johnson providing us with a rendition of Hakuna Matata were a few of my favourite moments.

The set, designed by Alice Power who is also credited as the ‘Penis Costume Designer’ gave us the inside of Buckingham Palace, a TV set, a boat travelling across the channel and muppet show style boxes at either side of the stage which featured Harry & Meghan, amongst others.  The changes of scenery came behind plush red curtains that were drawn and opened on many occasions.  Some of these transitions seemed a little long at times and momentum was lost slightly.

Idiots Assemble, a cleverly titled show, with eye watering humour and incredible puppetry. 

This show was reviewed on the 16th February 2023.  It runs at the Birmingham REP until the 11th March 2023. Tickets available here: https://www.birmingham-rep.co.uk/whats-on/spitting-image-live/

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Photo credit: Mark Senior

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