LONDON — Just when Jeremy Corbyn thought it couldn’t get any worse, a rollicking stage musical has debuted in London openly mocking the Labour Party leader’s intellect, his terror-loving friends, and his sexual performance.
The entire run of Corbyn the Musical, which first previewed on Tuesday at the Waterloo East Theatre, is already sold out.
On stage, Corbyn is mercilessly lampooned as a hapless Communist wannabe—rejected by the Soviet Union, and unable to get it up.
This extremely camp musical is set in the early months of Corbyn’s first term in office. He has taken power after a freakish turn of events render current Prime Minster David Cameron and his heir apparent Boris Johnson unable to win the election despite Corbyn’s historically low approval rating.
In his first infectious song, Corbyn, played by Martin Neely, introduces himself perfectly as Britain’s more successful answer to Bernie Sanders.
I’m a governmental virgin,
It’s time to consummate
I didn’t sell out
I didn’t give in
You needed a hero
You’ve got Jeremy Corbyn
No sooner has he entered No. 10, Putin is already threatening to wipe out Britain, or New Crimea as he calls it, with a nuclear strike.
The rest of the show flashes between the nuclear stand-off and a 1970s trip behind the Iron Curtain to East Berlin where Corbyn may or may not have traveled as a young socialist in real life.
We know that Corbyn did have a relationship with Diane Abbott at the time, before she became Britain’s first black female member of parliament. They may even have gone to East Berlin together, but it’s impossible to believe that she was as mean to him as the show suggests.
“You’re not going to get stage fright again?” she asks him after demanding another stop on their motorcycle tour for him to try to satisfy her. This time he is ready to perform: “I see your red flag is flying,” she says approvingly.
Abbott is now a member of Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet, but the idea that he was smart enough to ever become her boss is a cause for great hilarity on stage. Abbott went to Cambridge University; Corbyn failed to graduate from North London Polytechnic.
Even when he becomes prime minister in the show, Abbott holds a moral and sexual power over him. “Madiba is still my safe word,” she whispers.
The satire is biting. At times we verge into Team America territory, especially when one of Corbyn’s friends confesses that he is a terrorist mastermind who feels he has been let down by Corbyn’s moderation in office.
I’m so ashamed to be alive
Should have committed suicide
Let me give you my CV
As director of atrocity
No operation too big or small
Buses, planes, I’ve done them all
I’m passionate about my role
Of bombings with a heavy toll.
Jeremy, please explain
Why can’t I hijack this plane?
Your path is so strange to choose
I thought, like me, you hate the Jews.
Rupert Myers, who co-wrote the show with Bobby Friedman, denies that the musical is any way mean-spirited towards Corbyn.
“It’s loving. It’s supposed to be a warm, affectionate, friendly take on it,” he told The Daily Beast. “What’s funny is you focus on a person for six months and you write about them and you develop a certain respect for them whether you want to or not. So I think by the end of this process we see Corbyn in a more heroic light than we did in the beginning.”
It would be a stretch to say Corbyn was portrayed as a hero in the musical—probably not even an anti-hero—but the heaviest vitriol is certainly saved for Putin and Blair.
Tony Blair is cast as a wild-eyed reincarnation of Dr Strangelove, consigned to a wheelchair after one of Silvio Berlusconi’s bunga-bunga parties got out of control. He sings: “I can’t shake my hunger, to go and war monger.”
Unlike the Blair character, who will do anything for money, the current Labour leader stays true to his principles, no matter how naíve.
Even if the show was written with genuine affection, it can’t help Corbyn to know that the hottest ticket in London is 2½ hours of calling him a laughingstock.