A photograph of Tony Blair when he chills and connects with nature
The left wing love a good hero. When we started making our new show Tribute Acts, Labour had lost the election. Cheryl and I wanted to make something about the absence of any one to believe in anymore. We started by interviewing our dads. Both are vocal socialists and once great figures of inspiration to us, but as we grew up, as probably all parents do, they became real and flawed.
In the interview we realised they can’t relate to women. When asked who would be their top advisors if they were PM both men reeled off a list of inspirational men (Cheryl’s dad said ‘Mandela obviously’ and my Dad said some French man who had written a book ‘I haven’t read it yet but I like his ideas’) then my dad said he should have a woman in his cabinet but he had no idea who that would be.
We wanted to create a show that explored how we used to hero worship father figures and how it didn’t end well; it left us with no one to believe in. Growing up our father figures were Tony Blair, Bill Clinton, and of course our actual dads. We made this show and it wasn’t perfect but it had heart, it was brave and it had dance routines and it was set in space. We took it to Edinburgh.
But now we are back and there’s Jeremy. Jeremy Bloody Corbyn.
All of my clever friends on facebook and twitter are obsessed. They share photos of him in shorts, photos of him with hen parties, vids of him shouting at Margaret Thatcher. They love him. And I kind of do too. As my dad said about the Frenchman ‘I like his ideas.’ But I’m wary. I’m wary of anyone who has had three wives. It’s something I get told off for saying because I don’t really know how to be eloquent about it. But I see in it something deeply ingrained in the exclusion of women in left wing politics. And I guess I’m troubled that two white men are leading a party about equality. And I guess I’m worried that a lot of my clever friends who are so vocal about loving Jeremy would maybe never be so vocal about loving a woman. And I guess I’m worried about how easy it is to love a man.
Then I thought – did our dads ever set out to be heroes? Does Jeremy want to be a hero? Did the hero story go to Tony Blair’s head? Maybe the problem is with us. With Cheryl and I for wanting a hero, wanting to believe in these figures of authority. I guess if you’re a Tory there’s no need to be a hero, you don’t need the story of bad vs evil and wrong and right, you just want life to be comfortable for you. A Tory leader can put their privates in a pig’s mouth and there is no threat to their ideology. But if you’re a socialist, if you want fairness and change, you have to be perfect. And when you are not there’s a big problem.
So we are going to go back to the beginning. We are going to interview each other. We are going to ask all the questions we would never ask each other and it’s going to be a hell of a lot more difficult than trying to dance in time to Jamiroquai. So alongside our Dad’s version of our lives we are going to present ours. We are going to put ourselves under the same microscope we put our sweet, flawed and trusting fathers under.
And we are damn excited to share it with you all.
Tribute Acts is at Camden People’s Theatre between 20 – 24 October. To book tickets please click here.