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Tim Clare: How To Be A Leader
Published on Monday, 16 May 2011

5 stars

Upstairs at Three and Ten (venue website)
15 May, 5:00pm-5:55pm; 29 May, 7:00pm-7:55pm
Reviewed by Mathilda Gregory

 Suitable for age 18+ only.
 Warning: Contains strong language.

I've seen poet Tim Clare performing before, and always enjoyed his clever blends of the manic and the sardonic, but I wasn't expecting to be wowed by this solo show about leadership.  However, wowed I most certainly was.

From its opening, in the dark, with a sinister psychology experiment described in alarming detail, through to the closing rap about inspirational female leaders (with the net cast very wide), this show grips, entertains and informs.  It uses verbal dexterity, silly graphics, politics, economics and game theory to create one clever piece of theatre.

At some points in the show Clare uses the audience to represent his subjects – casting himself as our leader, and demonstrating the scope and limits of his power over us. He introduces support for the least well-off in the audience, while also promising to reward excellence. Then demonstrates how, already, he has created a resentful middle class who qualify for neither.

But that's just one example of the neat tricks this show employs to illustrate and illuminate its topic. Leaders studied range from Jim Jones to Willy Wonka (the bipolar candy-pimp). Methodologies include nonsensical corporate speak, international politics and making a magical hypno-crown.

Underneath it all is a well-thought-out dissection of whether or not power corrupts, and Clare's take on this is thoughtful, original and human. This is one of the best Fringe shows I've seen in ages: and perhaps Clare's masterplan has worked brilliantly, because I'm now a thoroughly devout follower.

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