Robert Tanitch reviews The Confessions of Gordon Brown at Ambassadors, London WC2
This is the story of the most successful Chancellor of the Exchequer in British history who longed to be Prime Minister and when he finally did achieve the highest office in the land, it all went horribly wrong.
It could be a subject for a tragedy? Gordon Brown had the hubris and he has been given a memorable tragic line, “Despair is best shared alone.”
Brown always felt he had been denied his lawful right too long and that Tony Blair had usurped his throne: “Every hour of him was an hour less of me.” Austere, even dour, he had the moral stature to be Prime Minister but not the public persona and the necessary body language to go with it.
If you are hoping the satire will have the viciousness of a cartoonist such as Gerald Scarfe or the acerbity of Have I Got News For You and Private Eye, then you will be disappointed. It’s not that kind of a performance.
There is humour but Kevin Toolis’s script and Ian Grieve’s portrayal of the man are essentially sympathetic. Overworked, overwhelmed, the Leader realizes he is not in control of events but at the mercy of them.
The Confessions of Gordon Brown is recommended to universities, to party members, political activists and anybody interested in the nature of power and the politics of leadership.
The production, following its London run, can be seen at the 2014 Edinburgh Festival.