"The Madness of George Dubya"

Leave it to the British to make us laugh about the war. If we're all real good, maybe we'll even wind up seeing this delicious lampoon, inspired by our real life little kingy and the fictional Stanley Kubrick movie, "Dr. Strangelove."

"[The Madness of George] Dubya" — part vaudeville, part farce, part cabaret — has become the newest emblem of the frustration and ambivalence felt by some Britons at being drawn into a war as the principal allies of an American administration that provokes incredulity and resentment rather than loyalty among many of them.

"It's undoubtedly anti-Bush," Mr. Butcher said, "but to understand it as an anti-American diatribe is to miss the point." To describe it as topical might be an understatement, too. From its conception to its first production took less than three weeks, he said.

The United States, Mr. Butcher said, justified a war on Iraq by "a series of palpable hoaxes" that left him "increasingly flabbergasted by the shameless, manipulative cynicism of the whole approach." He was so incensed that starting late in December he resolved to cast, write and stage his revue, which opened just over two weeks later, on Jan. 14, in the Theatro Technis fringe theater in north London. It opened in the West End last Monday.

. . . .

Some characters seem to be caricatures of American politicians whose own words have already made them seem like caricatures to some of their critics. "All you have to do is transcribe their utterances, and it needs very little embellishment," Mr. Butcher said. "You couldn't invent it."

The British characters, by contrast, are more or less bumblers dragged along in the powerful American wake. Prime Minister Tony Blear is preoccupied by a real estate deal — a real-life scandal that swirled around Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife, Cherie, last year. Group Captain Windbreak is the very model of British deference as he seeks to dissuade General Kipper from ordering a nuclear strike. "Quite so," he murmurs, as the American officer demurs. "See your point."

The NYTimes account concludes with the revelation that the very fresh review necessarily incorporates an element of news, because of the speed of events in Iraq. Each day's performance is updated with new jokes.

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Published on April 17, 2003 11:23 PM.

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