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Matt Tiller: Just Du-et
Published on Tuesday, 23 August 2011

2 stars

Just The Tonic at the Caves (venue website)
4-16, 18-21, 23-28 Aug, 7:35pm-8:35pm
Reviewed by Craig Thomson

 Recommended for age 14+ only.

The coalition government tagline 'we're all in this together' is given a dark new significance in this well-intentioned, but ultimately best-forgotten, show.

Matt Tiller is an affable figure on the stage, cradling a glass of wine and welcoming the crowd as we take our seats.  His set is at once hi- and lo-tech; to his left a corkboard strewn with paper, to his right a fancy LCD TV showing slides and movies to accompany the narrative.

Tiller jokes that the show's title, Just Du-et, has nothing to do with the content of the show because he had to enter it for the print deadline months before he finished writing.  It may have been a throwaway line, but it's not hard to believe.  Starting with the (possibly true) anecdote that he nearly ran down George Osborne in the 1990s at Plymouth Fish Market with a Ford Fiesta, he spins off into a complex (and definitely untrue) web about abducting the now-Chancellor and tying him up in a basement.

Frankly, it doesn't work.  Tiller takes as a given that the audience will instinctively hate the Conservative Party, in that condescending way that left-leaning artists tend to.  He doesn't spend any time at all constructing an argument as to why we ought to be opposed to the government's public expenditure cuts, or why we should have any sort of animus against the leading politicians.  Instead, it's pictures of Boris and Dave in their Bullingdon togs, and laughing at the fact Osborne's first name is really 'Gideon'.

So the politics is lazy – nothing especially unusual in that.  There is an attempt at a personal narrative thread, reflecting on his own time at public school and Oxbridge (Tiller is old enough to be a contemporary of Osborne's at Oxford, despite appearances).  The family photos that flash up behind his right shoulder are cute, but the pieces never really come together.

This is especially true of the superfluous songs; the show is a musical-based comedy, although it needn't have been.  Despite having the look and feel of an Elvis Costello, Tiller's songs about his real life and his fictional abduction of the Treasury Minister were short and banal; they were neither big nor clever.

I think there could be a decent show in there somewhere.  But for a musical comedy storytelling set, the music wasn't very good, the jokes weren't very funny, I found the story very difficult to follow.  In all, it just didn't du-et for me.

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