Live music

Lockdown Musical Explores the Profound Questions: What Makes a Life Worth Living? Does a Scotch Egg Really Constitute a Substantial Meal?

Philip Roth once said that satire is “moral outrage turned into comic art”. I hope that describes pretty well our new musical, “Scotch Egg” which is running this weekend at the Drayton Theatre in London. Roth’s quote certainly encapsulates the mood in which I wrote much of the Book and the Lyrics. Kept sane mainly by Toby’s Lockdown Sceptics, in March 2020 I watched in stunned disbelief as key principles of law and democracy were destroyed – and all for a seriously over-rated virus. As an ex-lawyer (now a writer and teacher) I was baffled and angered in equal measure. I reached for my pen. However, my writing partner, Dom Hartley, as well as being a musical genius, operates very much in a comedic universe. He hates anything too preachy. So, together we spent almost two years creating a show which joyfully mocks the powerful and the tragic absurdities of lockdown. Our key aim is to be entertaining. Always. So, the show opens with an out-of-work actor driven to alcoholism and working for Deliveroo; there is a song sung by an out-of-work burglar and one from an equally bereft sex-worker. Oh, and the song “Drama” contains a rap-battle between Boris Johnson and Chris Whitty. We don’t shy away from tragedy either – one song “Fading Away” shows a dying man being forced to say goodbye to his wife of 50 years on an iPad.

We’re no strangers to musical theatre, having written two previous shows, “Crunch” (about the 2008 financial crisis) and “Vision”, which has been produced twice at the Edinburgh Fringe and many times in England and abroad. Although “Scotch Egg” is a comedy, it feels more important now than these other pieces. It’s a show that we simply had to write. It certainly seems to have sparked some interest as tickets for this short run sold out in a few days. However, there are some remaining seats for press or industry professionals so, if that’s you, please get in touch via the show’s website. We are aiming for a longer run in the summer, when I hope many other Daily Sceptic readers will get a chance to see it. In the meantime, our cast are ready to get under those lights this weekend and try valiantly to dispel our country’s stubborn mass psychosis with the most powerful tool of all: mockery.

Here’s the blurb:

It’s 2040 and a late-night news show is running a retrospective on the Pandemic. In the studio with sharp-tongued presenter, Judith Harper-Jones, is ex-PM Lord Johnson. As the Peer struggles to explain the inexplicable, a series of characters take the audience through the comic and the tragic aspects of the crisis.

This show explores all the profound questions: What makes a life worth living? Is democracy dead? Does a scotch egg really constitute a substantial meal?

With satirical numbers like, The Laws are Set in Stone and He’s Gonna Save Christmas, combined with the pathos of songs like, Fading Away and We’re All Key Workers After All, this musical romp will provide thought-provoking satire and a much-needed Covid boost – without the need for a fourth jab. 

Read a review (rehearsal) here.

And here’s the poster and programme:

Tens of Thousands Demand Their “Freedom to Dance” in London Protest

The protest isn’t over in London. Today, tens of thousands of people have turned out to a party to demonstrate against the Government’s attack on the live music industry through the imposition of numerous lockdowns and the continuation of social distancing measures. The MailOnline has the story.

Crowds blocked Regent Street during the FreedomToDance march organised by Save Our Scene, demonstrating against the ongoing Covid restrictions that are keeping nightclubs and music venues closed in order to stop the spread of the virus.

The lively protest saw open-sided trucks rigged with speakers providing a mobile club atmosphere for the punters as they poured out onto the streets without masks to protest against coronavirus restrictions on nightlife.

Young protestors were seen puffing on balloons as they walked along in the festival-feel crowd on one of London’s busiest shopping streets.   

Others were seen brandishing signs reading “let the music play”, “music is medicine” and “everybody’s free to feel good, but not dance”.

The results from 10 Government-led trial events were recently released and identified only 28 positive Covid test results among 58,000 participants. So when will the Government do as these protesters ask and “let the music play”?

The MailOnline report is worth reading in full.

Just 28 Positive Covid Test Results after Trial Events Involving Almost 60,000 People

A Government scientific adviser says that the European Championship finals can go ahead safely following results from 10 trial events which identified only 28 positive Covid test results among 58,000 participants. The Telegraph has the story.

Between mid-April and mid-May, the Government allowed a number of large gatherings to take place, including the World Snooker Championships, the Brits, the F.A. Cup Final, a 5k fun run and a club night in Liverpool. 

Participants had to test negative to be allowed in, and were asked to take a second test after the event to see if they had caught Covid there.

Results published on Friday show that there were no major outbreaks caused by any of the events and just 28 people tested positive in the days that followed. 

Asked whether it was safe to allow 60,000 people to meet for the European Championship final, Professor Tom Rodden, a Chief Scientific Adviser in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said: “Certainly, those events can go on safely.”

The Events Research Programme was commissioned by the Prime Minister in February 2021 as part of the roadmap out of lockdown, and was designed to explore how reopening of events can be conducted safely whilst limiting the transmission of the virus.

The report found that prevalence within events was no different to that in the wider community, which they said was “reassuring”…

Experts said it was important that people were allowed back to mass events because it was important for mental health and social cohesion.

Professor Iain Buchan, the Chair of Public Health and Clinical Informatics at the University of Liverpool, said: “This is a really important social phenomenon, and the World Health Organisation’s founding principle was health as a complete state of physical, mental and social wellbeing, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, or the absence of a virus.

“We have to consider society in the round.”

Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, added: “The findings and learnings will help event organisers plan for large audiences as we move to step four of the roadmap.”

Worth reading in full.

Those Who Have Had AstraZeneca Vaccine – or No Vaccine at All – Banned From Upcoming Bruce Springsteen Show

Broadway is reopening in New York, but you’ll need to have received a vaccine approved by the country’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in order to go to a show. Bruce Springsteen will shortly be opening in a one-man show on Broadway, but audience members will be forced to show proof of vaccination to attend – and the AstraZeneca vaccine won’t count! The Telegraph has the story.

The show, billed as “an intimate night with Bruce, his guitar, a piano, and his stories” will run five nights a week at the St James theatre.

“At the direction of New York State, Springsteen on Broadway and the St James Theatre will only be accepting proof of FDA-approved Covid vaccines,” the website says.

Anyone who has received another jab, or is unwilling or unable to have a vaccine will not be allowed to attend.

The news has been met with disappointment just hours north, across the Canadian border, where more than 1.7 million people have had the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Only those who have had a Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be allowed to go to the theatre.

Worth reading in full.

The nyc.com website says young children will be exempt from the vaccine rule, but no one else.

The only exception to the above will be for children under the age of 16, who must be accompanied by a vaccinated adult and also must provide proof of at least one of the following:

~ negative antigen Covid test taken within six hours of the performance start time, or

~ negative PCR Covid test taken within 72 hours of the performance start time.

22,000 People Gather in Florida for First Live Music Festival Since Covid

No vaccine passports (they’re banned), no tests, no masks, no distancing – 22,000 people packed together for an outdoor live music event in Florida. Freedom-loving Governor Ron DeSantis showed up and was treated to a hero’s welcome. The Capitolist has the story – though there was notably little coverage of this milestone in pandemic recovery elsewhere.

Video from this weekend’s Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam shows the governor emerging out of the smoke on the concert venue’s runway as “Crazy Train” blares and roughly 22,000 country music fans erupt into thunderous applause. He throws his arms in the air, encouraging the crowd even more, clearly enjoying the experience.

“Amazing,” a man backstage is heard on a video saying as DeSantis takes the stage, “that guy’s a rock star.”

DeSantis made a surprise appearance to the concert last night to welcome country music fans to Panama City Beach and thank them for attending what is believed to be the first major live music festival event since Covid.

The Panama City Beach 2021 Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam three-day event did not require masks and featured headliners Lynyrd Skynyrd, Brad Paisley and Luke Bryan. It was originally slated to occur last Labor Day weekend but was postponed because of the pandemic.

The festival is just the latest example of Florida’s determination to get life back to normal.

During DeSantis’ brief remarks he encouraged other states and countries to follow Florida’s lead and open back up and “let people live their lives.” The crowd roared when he said the reason Florida was hosting the event was because “Florida chose Freedom over Faucism.”

While the U.K. dithers about whether to take a step closer to normal later this month, Florida ended all restrictions eight months ago in September 2020 and went through the winter without lockdowns or mask mandates. But no public health disaster unfolded, and the state did better than strict lockdown states like California.