The first time I heard about Matt Forde and his new show on Brexit I was at the Fringe Festival in Edinburgh last summer: the life-size photo of Forde being chased by a bear and a lot of politicians was impossible to miss even among the thousands of posters covering the city. Unfortunately (for me), all the performances during the Edinburgh run were sold out and I missed the chance to see the show. So I was overjoyed when I discovered that the show was heading south of the border to the Soho Theatre in London for a week and I managed to get a couple of tickets.
Forde is a very talented political satirist and impressionist with many tv credits to his name: he writes for shows like 8 Out of 10 Cats and Russell Howard’s Good News, and he has also appeared on a few shows such as Have I Got News For You. He has also been hosting his own show on Dave called Unspun with Matt Forde since 2016 and while hosting The Political Party show at the Other Palace Theatre in London he got the chance to interview many of the major UK politicians.
While Forde has a long history within the Labour Party and made Iain Dale’s list of the 100 most influential people on the Left, this show is not a one-way attack at the Conservative Party; Forde has something to say on all major political parties and he is absolutely hilarious. Even my wife that is not into politics had a great night and laughed enthusiastically.
With no props, just a microphone, Forde dominates the stage for one hour, alternating jokes, satire, impressions of politicians and reflections on the political landscape we have today and how we got to where we are today. Clearly Brexit and the results of the last General Election are the main topics, with ample space dedicated to Boris Johnson and the infamous election manifesto of the Labour Party that Forde claims to have read cover to cover. While not everybody may agree with some of his views, I think most people will find his impressions hilarious and spot-on, especially Trump and Boris Johnson, and will laugh with gusto at his political satire. The audience was in stitches and I have not laughed so much in a long time. Even if I was not able to catch every single reference, I still found the show very enjoyable and helpful to exorcise some of the anxiety that people like me may have around Brexit.
In this show, Forde achieves something rare and difficult: he makes people laugh wholeheartedly, but also manages to make them reflect on the current political landscape, on some of the main shortcomings of each party and on how we got to the current government. I found really interesting his lucid and clever analysis on why the Labour Party lost the last General Election and on how the difficult part of Brexit is still to come.
After the run at the Soho Theatre, the show goes on a national tour for a few months, covering most of the country and will be back in London for more dates, so there are still plenty of occasions to see this one-man show. While it is a very political performance, I think is wide-reaching and most people will find his satire very funny, his analysis understandable and well documented, and will leave the theatre having learned a little more about the world we live in and the challenges ahead.
Review by Fabio Ghiotto
Matt Forde’s Brexit, Pursued By a Bear is at Soho Theatre until Saturday 25th January before embarking on a nationwide tour. Matt will visit London’s Southbank Centre Purcell Room on 10th and 27th March and London’s Bloomsbury Theatre on 2nd May.
For full tour information please visit www.mattforde.com/live