Tony Benn and Richard Holloway: Two Old Gits

In a society where the older generation is generally ignored and marginalised by the media, Two Old Gits comes as a welcome change. Besides, what better can you do as a former political behemoth than reflect on your life and share those thoughts with a knowledge-hungry public? Indeed, our audience’s appetite was clearly voracious, for the Music Hall at the Assembly Rooms was full to capacity.

Despite their combined age of (allegedly) 162 years, Tony Benn and Richard Holloway still pack enough firepower to draw a crowd. Indeed, when our hosts were accompanied onto the stage by Alan Taylor, introduced to the audience as a moderator and tea-pourer, spirits were lifted at the prospect of such lively debate as to need moderating. Sadly, no such debate was forthcoming despite Taylor’s claim that ‘We’re going to sort everything in the next hour.’

Rather than coming from opposite ends of the political spectrum, Benn and Holloway share many ideological similarities: Both rejected their roots - Benn his peerage and Holloway his career in the Scottish Episcopal Church - to follow what they felt were their moral paths; both were against what they referred to as ‘Blair’s War’; both have books to promote. This can occasionally make for an overly-comfortable and unchallenging experience.

This show certainly offered an interesting hour, briefly tickling topics like the Church’s attitude towards the gay community, the origins of the Labour Party (Benn sees himself as very old Labour indeed), an old-boys’-club list of famous men they have met and the Scottish vote for independence. Benn and Holloway, despite talking about serious matters with the expected conviction also allowed moments of surprising humour.

The end of the session was given over to questions from the floor. Unfortunately, some clearly well-thought-out questions were somewhat stunted from proper development by the answers from these two mouths. When a question was directed at Benn as to what happened to the soul of the Labour Party, Benn seemed to slip into pure politician-speak and skirted around a direct answer. With his age and stature is he not free to criticise the younger members of his group? Both gave the impression that whilst Politics (note the capital P) is about power, it is politics on a personal level that can make the biggest difference; our personal ability to make the right moral choices and accept disagreement and debate are essential for a healthy society. Ironically, such a statement only highlighted their lack of disagreement. The audience seemed happy with this though, and the ending applause gave a clear indication of their respect.

Benn and Holloway are incredibly interesting in their own right (whether you agree or disagree with their viewpoint) and would have benefitted from an ‘in conversation with’-style show instead of this bland format, which made them a whole lot less than the sum of their collective parts.

Reviews by Sarah McIntosh

Edinburgh Playhouse

Funny Girl

★★★★
Festival Theatre Edinburgh

Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story

★★★★
King's Theatre

TOM, the Musical

★★★★
Festival Theatre Edinburgh

James III: The True Mirror

★★★★
Festival Theatre Edinburgh

James II: Day of the Innocents

★★★
Festival Theatre Edinburgh

James I: The Key Will Keep The Lock

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

The Blurb

2013 sees the publication of Tony Benn's final volume of diaries and of Richard Holloway's Leaving Alexandria. Tony returns to the Fringe engaging in lively conversation with the former primus of Scotland.

Most Popular See More

Grease the Musical

From £20.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wicked

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £12.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets