Originally penned in just three days, rehearsed and produced within a week, The Madness of George Dubya was first seen at the tiny Teatro Technis in Islington before transferring and then extending last month at the Pleasance Theatre. Billed as a "wild satirical update of Dr Strangelove, with elements of Accidental Death of an Anarchist thrown in", Butcher’s farce is "hot off the press".
Tension is mounting in the Gulf, war drums are beating in Britain and America, and the commanding general of a US air base in Britain goes 'a little funny in the head' and orders his airborne division, each armed with countless megatons of nuclear missiles, to attack their primary targets in Iraq. It's a frantic race against time for President George Dubya and Prime Minister Tony to recall the planes and prevent an all-out war in the Middle East.
On the fringe, the cast of The Madness of George Dubya were Thomas Arnold, Jamie Bower, Jonathan Bruun, Nicholas Burns, Simon de Deney, Lindsey Ellis, Clement von Franckenstein, Andrew Havill, Richard Leaf, Rupert Mason, Harry Napier and Jonah Russell. The production features satirical songs by Tom Lehrer and others.
The farce is written and directed by Butcher, whose previous plays include Scaramouche Jones, which last month won its star Pete Postlethwaite the Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers' Choice Award for Best Solo Performance.
As its title confirms, Butcher has made no secret of the political slant of The Madness of George Dubya. The show's website explains that it was written "in response to the rising tide of lunatic US/British militarism, gong on to say of its subject, the man most responsible for making matters worse – ‘President’ George W Bush - is not even the legally elected leader of his country! He and his cohorts defrauded, cheated and gerrymandered their way to power and have been abusing it ever since."
Speaking to Whatsonstage.com today, Butcher says that he has been approached by 28 different theatres in the United States, vying for the rights to present the play there as an alternative political view. This week, the playwright is frantically rewriting the script to keep it up-to-the-minute with current world developments for its West End season.
- by Terri Paddock