Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin. Picture the scene, if you will. It’s a little after 11.30 at night, you’re frankly exhausted and sitting in a small room atop the tallest tower of the Gilded Balloon. In front of you, a large, well-dressed man slumbers on the stage but, as the clock strikes the half hour, his eyes spring open, he leaps to his feet and starts bellowing at you about fairies and Karl Marx.
Doesn’t sound like there’s going to be a happy ending, does it? Yet Socialist Fairytales somehow works. I won’t pretend that you’ll understand everything that happens over the next hour, but if anything this only adds to the fun.
Will Seaward’s surreal vision is to attempt an allegorical analysis of modern Britain through four fairytales following the adventures of Clever Jack in the Dark and Evil Forest of Death and Harm. Whether hunting in the dark, dark forest for that mythical treasure, a stable job, or climbing the ever-growing UK Budget Deficit to rescue a fair princess, his adventures teach us in a (very) roundabout way the socialist ideal that we all benefit when we all work together.
It’s fair to say that Socialist Fairytales is more of a showcase for the personality of Will Seaward than a carefully crafted show, but there’s a lot to like about both him and it. His choice of a smallish venue allows for an excellent connection with the audience, so when Seaward lurches off on a somewhat random tangent, it’s easy for you to come with him. This is also one of the very few shows where the audience participation aspect feels like a genuine attempt to bring you along on a joyous journey instead of scoring cheap laughs from your discomfort. Thus it is a joyous journey, as Seaward’s hypnotically off-kilter narrative keeps you constantly grinning and guessing where you’re all going next.
Socialist Fairytales is an uncertain proposition but if it clicks with you, like it did with me, you’ll have a superbly bizarre and wonderful time. If it doesn’t, you’ll just be mildly confused for an hour. Either way, it’ll definitely give you something to talk about in the bar afterwards, and then we’ll all live happily ever after. The End.