Everyone had a favourite subject at school taught by their favourite teacher. Mine was history. My history teacher really wanted to be a folk singer so he sang songs about his subject. The class gazed out of the window and figured we’d got away without working. Come our 'O' levels, now rebranded as GCSE’s, you could hear the examinees singing his songs as they wrote their essays. Everyone passed. Des Kapital is the alter ego of ex-teacher Andy Thomas who draws his inspiration from the same well.
The three components of songs, slideshow and off-stage banter work perfectly together as an oddball treat in this must see show
Des bounces on to the stage in Communist Party fatigues singing 'once I was 28 years old' as the PowerPoint presentation kicks in behind him. The PowerPoint will not only keep us appraised of Mao’s historical timeline but also, karaoke style, allow us to join in when appropriate. To encourage us to get involved we are led to believe that the show is being recorded for a live album, Des’s 'difficult second album'. The device of recording the second album allows not only a positive off-kilter dialogue between Des and the sound room, but also a major prompt for a great deal of audience participation.
Soon we are into a brilliant reworking of Bohemian Rhapsody, detailing Mao’s early career. It’s mind bogglingly clever and when combined with the fast moving on screen presentation it is terrifically funny. Everybody in the room is hooked. We are all laughing and joyfully joining in on demand.
The songs are too numerous to mention but my favourites were the remarkable revamps of Suicide is Painless, Once I was Seven Years Old and Angels. The last of which is still playing in my head and no doubt will be for days to come. Everything is delivered with great timing, even when his mic is disconnected from it’s cord Des recovers seamlessly. The amusement is continuous, not belly laughs but a rolling sense of fun. Andy Thomas’s transformation to Des Kapital is education's loss and comedy's gain.
As we filed out of the small theatre everyone was smiling. Comrades who had all come to the party. As we emerged I overhead one rhetorical question that sums up the show. 'How do you make the death of millions of people funny?' I too can’t believe he pulled this delicate trick off so adroitly.
The three components of songs, slideshow and off-stage banter work perfectly together as an oddball treat in this must see show. I, for one, will definitely be downloading the live second album when it eventually comes out. Who wouldn’t want an educational singalong with endless laughs, it will be playing on repeat. In the meantime, point me to the University of the Third Age, I’m off to get my GCSE in Modern Chinese History.