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Poisoning Pigeons in the Park

Northern Theatre Company at the Playhouse, Norwich

Review published in the Eastern Daily Press, 26 April 2004

Poisoning Pigeons in the Park

While some classic comedy is genuinely timeless, much of what we see of it today hopelessly obscure or out of fashion.

However, this revue of songs by America satirist Tom Lehrer by the Northern Theatre Company shows material still funny. Songs were drawn from the 50s and 60s and showed him as a political folk musician commenting freely on social and cultural life.

Drawing from dozens of musical styles via pastiche and mimicry, they ranged from the amusingly eponymous Poisoning Pigeons in the Park to the biting ‘satire is taking things to extremes” Masochism Tango.

College days and Harvard featured, but when NBS broadcast an Americanised version of That Was The Week That Was in 1964, Lehrer saw an outlet for his sometimes controversial, always perceptive lyrical journeys across the face of life.

National Brotherhood Week won the biggest appluase, while the Hunting Song touched a nerve – the right to bear arms.

Political correctness has not blunted enjoyment of satire from that era. Lehrer boldly tackled race, the Catholic Church, Oedipus, the old dope peddlar, the Irish, ageing and Christmas, motherhood and apple pie.

The revue format was sung and amusingly linked by Iain Thompson, Daniel Sproats, Katy Burgess and Paula Hudson and they were excellently served by musical director Jonathon Holtby on keyboards.

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