Celebrating 21 years as a hit radio show, the Dead Ringers team – in this case, Jon Culshaw, Debra Stephenson and Duncan Wisbey – have taken up a late August residency in the Big Top venue at London Wonderground. Once the home of Earl’s Court 2, part of the Exhibition Centre, this patch of land has now become home for three months to eateries, fairground rides and attractions, and a small beach.
The trio of Dead Ringers are entertaining us for an hour – starting with their classic show opener, a spoof of Today, and taking aim at those in power (and recently in power), media figures, and a few names from popular culture (Alan Sugar, Star Wars, Love Island).
There are topical references to masks, Brexit, and the bumbling pseudo-personality of our current PM, but for me the highlights were in the musical interludes. What was David Cameron singing as he walked away post-resignation? What would happen if Disney took over the Today programme? It’s all sharp, funny, and on point.
The Big Top venue is large and airy, but it suffers from sound which is somewhat muffled, meaning some of the set was hard to follow. The impersonations were spot on, and it is always fun to watch something being created that it usually a simple aural experience, seeing the mechanics of changing from one ‘voice’ to another.
Some pieces are too delightful to mention as it will spoil the fun – but look out for Jacob Rees-Mogg’s slimy side, admire Liz Truss’s resourcefulness, and find out what Keir Starmer’s greatest achievement is.
Also, Boris Johnson’s ‘wah’ is given plenty of welly. Classic sketches take their place alongside new material and a bit of spontaneous ad-libbing.
In all, this is a reliable hour of entertainment, but not for the younger audience, and best for those who know their politics and personalities inside out.
Stephenson displays her singing prowess alongside a shapeshifting capture of voices from Martha Kearney to Theresa May, Wisbey is fun to watch with his physical movements alongside his mimicry, and the versatile Jon Culshaw is surely turning more into Lord Sugar than the man himself every day.
You can see Dead Ringers Live! at the London Wonderground at Earl’s Court (just up the road from West Brompton station) until 29 August: buy your tickets here.