Some people might think that setting the Battle of Stalingrad to Britney Spears’ Baby One More Time is somewhat trivialising the matter. On the other hand, who's to say that the most appropriate tribute to two million deaths isn't a super catchy pop song?
This is a brilliantly conceived and cleverly written show that is sneakily educational
Andy Thomas is a History teacher. I imagine that he sat down one day and thought that people didn't know enough about the history of the Soviet Union. So he put a show together to remedy this and he made it a musical. I feel that this was a good choice. Bursting on to the stage in red dungarees and red wig, proudly sporting the flag of the Soviet Union, he launches straight into a detailed chronology, set to songs with a supporting slide show. After all, it wouldn't be a lesson without a PowerPoint.
We are treated to Britney twice as Leon Trotsky is described in Toxic. Plenty of nice little snippets cover the politics of the 1920s and the agricultural policy is sung by the audience to Madonna's Like A Virgin before being contrasted to Mao's agricultural policy with the dreary Smith's Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now. My favourite song of the night closed the proceedings with another all party sing-song of Robbie Williams' Angels. If you can hum the tune now and insert the words “and through it all he offers Marx direction, spelling and correction, whether he's right or wrong. I'm reading Engel's instead”.
This is a brilliantly conceived and cleverly written show that is sneakily educational. Perhaps it could be described as a little too niche but the audience joyfully joined in and if they weren't comrades to start with they certainly left both more informed and more radicalised.