Review: The Confessions of Gordon Brown

Billy Hartman as Gordon Brown. Pic: Comp
Billy Hartman as Gordon Brown. Pic: Comp
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After its sell-out run at last year’s Fringe, The Confessions of Gordon Brown returns to the Capital.

* * * *

Traverse theatre

Emmy-nominated writer Kevin Toolis gives a fictionalised account that attempts to gain an insight into the former minister’s personality, behaviour and attitudes, as well as why his dream of power all went awry. The portrayal of the failed prime minister has what you would normally expect within any political satire. Raging from the likes of anti-Tory/Tony views, the betrayals and politicians trying to cope with the ever-changing views of the public.

It’s an intriguing insight into a man who tried for so long to make his way to the top of the political ladder. No stone is left unturned when describing some of the going-ons in No.10 during some of the most prolific news events.

However, that’s the unfortunate thing with Toolis’ script, it’s not so much of a confession but just repeating old news. At just over two hours, we’re given jokes and opinions of events that we’re already aware of when depicted in the likes of Private Eye and Have I Got News For You, and it soon gets tiresome.

Luckily, ex-Emmerdale star Billy Hartman, right, does a fantastic job at holding this show together as Brown. Hartman’s performance gives these stories the heart and sole that this piece deserves. Behind all the jokes about Darling’s eyebrows and the references to Kirkcaldy, he helps show the bleakness of the script, as we see a man who’s more than aware that he’s losing the hearts and votes from the public, but is still determined to stay in power. Hartman is perhaps at his most engaging when going into detail of Brown’s earlier years, like the unfortunate rugby accident that left him with a detached retina and the last time he can remember actually carrying money.

In terms of political theatre, it does show Brown’s most human side and puts him back in the limelight. But it’s unfortunately not as courageous or bold as it believes it might be.

• Run ends Saturday