politics.art

February 27th, 2003

‘Madness of George Dubya’ a UK hit


Wednesday, February 5, 2003 – CNN article
:

British theatre-goers are flocking to a new
farce which mocks U.S. President George W. Bush as a pyjama-wearing buffoon
cuddling a teddy-bear while his crazed military chiefs order nuclear strikes
on Iraq. “The Madness of George Dubya” — which mercilessly satirises British Prime
Minister Tony Blair as well as Bush — has proved such a success at a fringe
theatre in London that it is moving to a larger venue next week for an
extended run. “As war comes closer, the mood among audiences has changed,” actor Nicholas
Burns, who plays Blair, said after a performance this week. “The audience is
actually laughing more, but the tension behind their laughs has grown.
People are scared.”

Director Justin Butcher wrote “The Madness” in three days after Christmas —
then rehearsed it in six — in a fit of pique against the American
establishment following a brush with some U.S. security agents on a trip to
Romania. The agents were in Bucharest preparing for an imminent Bush visit and
interrogated Butcher and a friend in a hotel after overhearing a
conversation between them that they said they were “not comfortable with,”
the director said. “That was a key influence in my feeling that in the arts scene we were in
need of a wakeup call about the influence of American imperialism in the
world,” Butcher told Reuters after a full house had again cheered his play
to the rafters. “This is not a racist, anti-American thing. It’s a satirical attack on what
the U.S. and British governments are doing.”

As well as echoing in its title a 1994 film, “The Madness of King George,”
about Britain’s 18th century King George III, Butcher’s satire re-works plot
elements from Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 classic “Dr Strangelove.”
Throughout the play, Bush — with a cowboy hat and Superman T-shirt as well
as his pyjamas — wanders around uttering an idiot’s commentary from the
bunker (or “bunkbed” as he calls it) where his “special guys” have put him
for safekeeping. “Often times I get confused and forget stuff,” he says, as he rails against
the risk from “Islamic tourist states.” “Tourists are brown folks who get on planes and come to America and do bad
things, so we’re having a war on tourism,” he says in one of various risque
wisecracks in the play.

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