We take a look at what critics had to say about the musical based on the TV series making its West End debut.

(c) Mark Senior

Broadway World: *** “With nothing and nobody being safe from mockery in today’s age of social media, it makes me question what else Idiots Assemble: The Spitting Image Musical could offer that hasn’t been said already. There is certainly much to enjoy in the dazzling visuals, uber-talented puppeteers and a few standout numbers, but it depends if you can tolerate a five-minute sketch being stretched out to two hours. Either way you think, politically or ideologically, there’s certainly much to laugh at in this musical.”

The Stage: *** “Al Murray, Matt Forde and Sean Foley stage this famous show with a chorus of familiar faces and predictable satire.”

Evening Standard: **** “But while Spitting Image was once known for its biting political barbs, this version is strongest on simple, brainless belly laughs.”

iNews: ** “Still, when your humour is firmly middle of the road, you’ve got to stay nimble to avoid being crushed by oncoming traffic – and this show frequently gets mangled by weighty political issues it’s not strong enough to grapple with. After a pacy first act, an endless-feeling scene at Border Control offers an unconvincing attempt to satirise racism and anti-immigration sentiment: the all-white writing team feel entirely out of their depth.”

The Arts Desk: ** “There are flashes during Idiots Assemble: Spitting Image The Musical of the old mordant humour from the show’s heyday, when you could see Maggie the dominatrix, grey John Major eating his peas with his pants over his trousers and wee David Steel sitting in the pocket of David Owen. But today’s Spitting Image is more crude than cruel.” 

Everything Theatre: **** “Life is tough for many today, and humour helps in facing our difficulties. This is also a time when people are cautious about expressing opinions in case they’re shot down: satire exposes you to attack. Idiots Assemble stands up to this brazenly, defiant and disruptive. It’s not only entertaining but essential in this political climate.”

Lost in Theatreland: ** “Apart from the Putin number and a few slurs, this show is not as offensive as it promises to be. Although the puppetry is masterful, and fans of the TV show will probably enjoy seeing it come to life, Spitting Image isn’t the great satire it promises to be. Alas, it’s more amusing than side-splittingly funny.”

The Reviews Hub: **** “Sean Foley’s direction throughout the show is seamless, allowing each scene to be fully engaged with, and the musical numbers are well integrated throughout. There is one song parody between Sunak and Johnson that also utilises projections of news footage and newspaper headlines, which snaps the audience out of the comedic show momentarily and shines a stark light on how badly things have been handled the past few years. It quickly takes an unexpectedly serious tone, and although it commendably adds truth to the parodies, it also then struggles to get back to a more light-hearted tone.”

West End Best Friend: *** “Each and every puppeteer are the life and soul of this show though and are an exquisitely talented bunch who work together to operate numerous characters heads and limbs. A touch which is great to see is when the puppets need to stand up, the costume has made sure that the puppeteer’s bottoms match what the character is wearing at the time so bravo to Lotte Collett.”

Time Out: *** “As a technical feat, wow. There’s deft choreography from Lizzi Gee (those penises!) and sharp video design from Nina Dunn, but really it’s the puppets that make the show, more than 100 of them, beautifully constructed, with 15 puppeteers doing a fantastic job of bringing those famous faces to life and making themselves disappear. Sometimes those puppets get absurd and profane and spittingly angry things to say. More often, like those penises, the satire flops.”

London Theatre1: **** “I’ve tried not to give too much away about the story above, this is a show that is continually evolving and really does have to be seen not be believed. It is huge fun, totally irreverent and takes no prisoners in the lampooning of our leaders and celebrity heroes”

Jonathan Baz Reviews;: ** “The bus pass brigade will likely enjoy this mostly anodyne fayre, but Spitting Image died a natural TV death a long time ago. It should have been allowed to rest in peace.”

The musical continues to play at the Phoenix Theatre until the 26th August. To book tickets click here.


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