Steve Richards' Rock 'n' Roll Politics 2

What with the febrile state of British society at the moment, Steve Richards' canter through our political parkland seems perfectly timed. The first coalition government since the war, a raft of controversial spending cuts and two referendums with the potential to utterly transform Britain's constitution (covering Scotland and the EU respectively) are just a few of the big issues that Richards' can draw upon. Much like our beloved leaders themselves, however, Richards' occasionally seems overwhelmed by the responsibilities. Each of his vignettes are good individually, but take them together and you're not left with much of any substance.

Like real politics, though, that doesn't mean that there isn't a lot to enjoy here. Richards excels when he avoids wider judgements and instead draws upon the dozens of fascinating and surreal anecdotes he has gathered as a political journalist over the years. His stories are bolstered by his knack for impersonations - those of leftist firebrand Tony Benn and erstwhile SDP leader Roy Jenkins proving particularly pointed.

Because Richards has experienced politics from both sides of the barricade - as a journalist, but one working closely with politicians - he is able to pass wry comment on some of the more depressing practices of his profession. That an unscrupulous hack can scribble out an opinion piece about the inevitable economic rise of Brazil while sunning himself on a beach and cause a major debate on the Today Programme the following morning demonstrates the concerning power of the British media as great as any government inquiry.

But the pertinence of these stories also highlight a problem with a show billed as 'comedy.' Richards may be able crack the odd decent joke, but he's a journalist not a comedian. As such, don't go to his show expecting constant hilarity.

Also, while Richards attempts to structure his act by posing difficult political questions for the audience to ponder, they're not really related to the rest of his material. Asking what Alex Salmond should do about Scottish independence is all very well, but if the stories leading up to it are about by-elections in the 1980s, they risk becoming slightly superfluous.

Still, if politics at all interests you, go along and watch Richards' show. It's an entertaining and gentle way to spend a lunchtime. Finally, at the end you'll get to air your own views just as vociferously as the politicians Richards so insightfully discusses.

Reviews by Andrea Valentino


The Blurb

Steve Richards' Rock ‘n’ Roll Politics 2. Laugh and cry at a new behind-the-scenes guide to the latest political dramas and characters including Cameron, Clegg, Miliband and Salmond. Politics all shook up.