I'll post this here, because it's the first one that seems to match the article. c.i.
Mocking the White House at War
April 14, 2003
By ALAN COWELL
LONDON, April 13 - In the run-up to the war with Iraq, when
Justin Butcher's "Madness of George Dubya" was playing at a
fringe theater in north London, Mr. Butcher began to sense
that some Americans might bridle at his virulent lampoon of
the Bush administration and its readiness to go to war.
A "hostile minority" of e-mail messages, he said, demanded
to know how he would feel after a terror attack on his own
country. (He replied that Britain had indeed known Irish
Some asked why he was not grateful for Europe's salvation
by the United States in the Second World War. (He replied
that until 1941 the United States "sat very profitably on
the sidelines" of that conflict.) Some even pointed out, he
said, that if he were living in a country run by his "hero"
Saddam Hussein, he would be "lowered into a vat of acid"
for the kind of dissent and disrespect that is in his
But Mr. Butcher seems far from intimidated.
Now that his show has moved from the fringe into London's
mainstream West End for a four-week run at the Arts Theater
set to end on May 3, "The Madness of George Dubya" has been
hailed by some critics here as an overdue revival of
political satire on the London stage. Mr. Butcher, the
writer and the director, wants to take it to American
The breakthrough into the West End was a triumph for Mr.
Butcher, 33, a playwright who as an undergraduate studied
classics at Oxford before training as an actor at the Drama
Studio in London. Before "The Madness of George Dubya," his
best-known work was a one-man show, "Scaramouche Jones,"
about a clown who breaks five decades of silence to
commemorate the year 2000 and his 100th birthday so he can
tell his life story as he removes the greasepaint for the
"Dubya" - part vaudeville, part farce, part cabaret - has
become the newest emblem of the frustration and ambivalence
felt by some Britons at being drawn into a war as the
principal allies of an American administration that
provokes incredulity and resentment rather than loyalty
among many of them.
"It's undoubtedly anti-Bush," Mr. Butcher said, "but to
understand it as an anti-American diatribe is to miss the
point." To describe it as topical might be an
understatement, too. From its conception to its first
production took less than three weeks, he said.
The United States, Mr. Butcher said, justified a war on
Iraq by "a series of palpable hoaxes" that left him
"increasingly flabbergasted by the shameless, manipulative
cynicism of the whole approach." He was so incensed that
starting late in December he resolved to cast, write and
stage his revue, which opened just over two weeks later, on
Jan. 14, in the Theatro Technis fringe theater in north
London. It opened in the West End last Monday.
The subtitle of "The Madness of George Dubya" is
"Strangelove Revisited," reflecting the way the show
reworks the 1963 Stanley Kubrick movie, "Dr. Strangelove,"
as the story of a rogue American general at a British air
base ordering a nuclear strike on a distant desert country
identified variously as Iraqistan and Arabistan. (The title
also draws on Alan Bennett's 1991 play "The Madness of
George III," which became the 1994 movie "The Madness of
King George," depicting the descent into madness of a ruler
encircled by a coterie of loyalists.)
The events are cast as a dream by Dubya, a George W. Bush
look-alike. He is sometimes seen wearing paisley pajamas
over a Superman T-shirt, clutching a huge teddy bear and
armed with toy pistols. Much is made of heavily accented
malapropisms - "the war on tourism," "weapons of mass
At first it seems odd that the revue should hark back so
much to the cold war era. The Kubrick movie still stands as
a classic protest against nuclear militarism, and this
latest revisiting underscores the sense of cold war
polarization by using lyrics and music by an American, Tom
Lehrer. The show ends with a rousing chorus of "We will all
go together when we go."
The parallel, Mr. Butcher said, is deliberate, intended to
evoke similarities between the mind-set of the cold war and
that of the campaign against terrorism as promoted by the
White House after the Sept. 11 attacks. "Our constant state
is one of being at war," Mr. Butcher said.
Some Americans might be perturbed by the caricatures of
their president and of the people around him - the Dubya
figure calls them "Colin, Dick, Donald Duck." This Dubya,
who seeks to wage war on "poverty, tyranny, injustice and
France," is a childlike character easily manipulated by a
ruthless entourage of advisers drawn from the oil and arms
American officers like General Kipper, who orders a nuclear
strike on a distant Muslim country, are shown as deranged
zealots. The American pilots who fly the nuclear-attack
plane are shown as ignorant and self-absorbed, more
interested in pornography than the land they are about to
Some characters seem to be caricatures of American
politicians whose own words have already made them seem
like caricatures to some of their critics. "All you have to
do is transcribe their utterances, and it needs very little
embellishment," Mr. Butcher said. "You couldn't invent it."
The British characters, by contrast, are more or less
bumblers dragged along in the powerful American wake. Prime
Minister Tony Blear is preoccupied by a real estate deal -
a real-life scandal that swirled around Prime Minister Tony
Blair's wife, Cherie, last year. Group Captain Windbreak is
the very model of British deference as he seeks to dissuade
General Kipper from ordering a nuclear strike. "Quite so,"
he murmurs, as the American officer demurs. "See your
Wafiq Dizeez, an Arab envoy, introduces a serious long
moment in chronicling British and American involvement in
Iraq since the early 20th century. The counterpoint is
Yasmina, the cleaner from Al Qaeda, a suicide bomber who
wears a belt of explosives over flimsy underwear beneath
her cleaner's housecoat.
Mr. Butcher called the show a "hotch-potch of revue,
satire, cabaret, stand-up, vaudeville." In a way, it is
also news: with events in Iraq moving so fast, the play is
updated daily for new jokes.
"Coalition forces have today secured many areas of the city
of Belfast," Dubya said during last Monday's performance as
President Bush met Mr. Blair in Northern Ireland.
Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company