'People want to see blood, and we'll give it to them!': Spitting Image stage show to open in London
Theatre-goers can expect “the biggest cast of celebrities ever assembled”, according to comedian Al Murray – one of the writers and voices for the stage version of Spitting Image that’s opening in the West End.
“There’s 105 people in this show… It’s the biggest cast of celebrities ever assembled on any stage,” Murray told Sky News.
“This is just such an extraordinary project to be involved in… how people react to the puppets on stage is a brilliant thing.”
In its 1980s prime, 15 million viewers used to watch the satirical puppet show – which originally ran for 18 series.
Resurrected by ITV in recent years, the stage version of Spitting Image has proven hugely popular on its regional run in Birmingham and will now open in London in May.
The script centres around Tom Cruise’s attempts to save humanity.
Tasked by the King to create the UK’s own ‘Magnificent Seven’ of celebrity misfits – including Greta Thunberg, Meghan Markle and Angela Rayner, it features puppet cameos from Ant & Dec, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Vladimir Putin and Boris Johnson.
“It’s this thing of seeing these famous people in grotesque,” Murray explains, “a sort of amplified version of them kind of saying the things you really want to hear them saying – that’s what’s exciting.
“We’re working in the world of grotesquerie, so you can’t hold back… any sense that we’re treading on ice I think would undercut the show.”
The show’s fellow writer, comedian Matt Forde, believes there is a “huge appetite” for seeing powerful people “lampooned and mocked”.
“I think there’s something really cathartic about living in a country where you can just openly say ‘this guy looks and sounds like an idiot and we’re going to smack him around the face with a plank of wood’… basically it’s a high end Punch and Judy show.”
But in the age of online outrage, where we are perhaps more mindful about not focusing on physical flaws, is the show still able to be as savage?
Forde says: “People want us to go way, way further… so there are parts of the show that we have made even more outrageous because the public – well, it’s like the Coliseum – people just want to see blood… and we’re going to give it to them!”
While Boris Johnson might feature in the show, ironically for him – between the partygate committee hearing and the COVID inquiry – this could be the least controversial of his appearances.
Forde says the ex-PM and Tom Cruise are “more than welcome” to come and see the show – “if they’re prepared to pay for a ticket”.
Idiots Assemble: Spitting Image The Musical will run from 24 May to 26 August at the Phoenix Theatre in London.