The Tragedie of MacClegg

Wed 22nd – Sun 26th August 2012


Lise McNally

at 01:49 on 23rd Aug 2012



With this Macbethian romp through the rise and fall of Nick Clegg's career, student writers Thomas Bailey and Efraim Carlebach are really onto a winner. Their fusion of modern political satire with a Shakespearean classic is wickedly funny and wonderfully clever; theirs, at least, is a coalition made in heaven.

The script is brilliant. Shakespearean iambs and modern prose melt together seamlessly, so that the rhythms of power and betrayal gain an omni-temporal quality which is at once hilarious and resonant. Bailey and Carelebach maintain a perfect blend of loyalty and distance from the original Macbeth: some monologues are lifted in their entirety from the original text, and remain powerful and moving, but they have left themselves some brilliantly effective wriggle room. The performance is punctuated with hilarious reworkings of familiar scenes: the witches' cauldron scene in particular is a stroke of pure genius (with three members of the London homeless throwing broken promises into a dustbin-cum-cauldron), and the tableau of Clegg’s blood/ink stained hands after signing the coalition agreement is rib-achingly hysterical.

The cast do justice to the variances of the script, committing fully to the emotional depth of the Shakespearean scenes, but flexing their comic muscles to the full. Particular treats include wickedly wonderful impersonations of Andrew Marr (played by Ed Wingfield, resplendent in fake ears) and Bailey’s cruelly accurate turn as Ed Miliband, the unlikely Macduff of the piece. Aleks Cvetkovic’s Nick Clegg is masterful - his Clegg believes himself to be a true tragic hero, battling his hubris and facing his demons, and gives his audience comedy gold as a result. The whole ensemble is brilliant, and no one lets it down, but particular commendation is also due to Emma D’Arcy, as head of the Big Issue wielding witch clan. Wonderfully expressive, eloquent and a little bit bonkers, her reinterpretation of this mystical being could find a convincing place in any “straight” adaptation of the scottish play.

The production is slick and stylish: the scene changes are effectively managed by projecting snippets of relevant news broadcasts onto the back wall, and the comedy is perfectly paced and enjoyable throughout. It's a slight shame that the ending appears to peter out somewhat - the cast might take a look at how to give this more of an impact, because the highly-entertained audience was looking for its cue to erupt into raucous applause.

‘The Tragedie of Nick Clegg’ is an example of fringe creativity at its very best: so fresh, so focused, so very very funny. The script isn’t moralising - you can leave your political opinions at the door, for they won’t be called upon for vindication or defence. This is just old-fashioned fun at its height: sophisticated comedy and sparkling wit which retains an element of all-important silliness.


Jenni Reid

at 09:39 on 23rd Aug 2012



Sometimes fact is funnier than fiction. That some of the biggest laughs in this show are provided by genuine news footage serves to show that when presented in the right way, the story of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg can be incredibly funny. Brilliantly crafted by writers Thomas Bailey and Efraim Carlebach, the real life political events of 2005-2012 have been ingeniously interposed with Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and we follow Clegg’s journey from election as Lib Dem leader to coalition with the Conservatives. This show has outstanding comic bite since so much of it rings true to the events we all remember from the last few years - dramatised and reinvented to great effect. We find three London vagrants as the witches, the President of the NUS as Banquo (whose ghostly figure even appears in a Lib Dem meeting), and Ed Miliband and Harriet Harman as the Macduffs, although which is Lord and which is Lady is questionable.

This is a hilarious piece of satire for anyone with even a passing familiarity of the story of Macbeth. Seamlessly flitting between Shakespearean verse and modern English, some of Shakespeare’s greatest lines have been superbly rewritten; into the witches’ coalition cauldron, instead of eye of newt and toe of frog, goes Lords Reform, a referendum on AV, and the 50p tax cut, whilst the pledge on tuition fee rises is thrown to one side. Ed Wingfield’s Andrew Marr and Thomas Bailey’s Ed Miliband impressions were absolutely spot on, and provided many laughs. But it is Aleks Cvetkovic as Clegg who is the real heart of this show, showing an outstanding maturity and both acting and comedic talent. The technical aspects of this show should also be commended with a great soundtrack and backing images and videos being cleverly employed.

I would wholeheartedly recommend The Tragedie of Macclegg to fans of political comedy everywhere. It is short and sharp, constantly entertaining, never trite, and extremely funny.


Audience Avg.

1 vote, 0 comments

Click here for more event information

cast involved

other events on

Version 0.3.7a