Satire can be a powerful weapon in the right hands, as Kubrick’s Dr Strangelove proved. But it requires the precision of a smart bomb if it’s to hit its target without causing collateral damage.
So it was a brave decision by ice&fire and Teatro Vivo to present #Armingtheworld, a fury-driven comedy about Britain’s arms trade, in a series of short, sharp outdoor shows next in Deptford. The production, written by Christine Bacon and Ben Chessell and directed by Sophie Austin, was timed to coincide with a huge international arms fair at the ExCel centre. And thanks to clever writing, brilliant costumes, neat staging and fine performances, it packed a real punch as it trod that dangerously fine line between explosive laughter and damp squib.
Mensah Bediako was magnificently smug and sinister as the UK arms industry’s answer to Steve Bannon and he was ably supported by Rebecca Payton and Tom Ross-Williams as his loathsome sidekicks.
And their acidic dialogue was matched by Samantha Lawson who played the Eurofighter Typhoon as a supermodel – an inspired decision – Jason Eddy as a Parkway IV missile and Mark Stevenson as a canister of the latest, most savage form of CS gas. This was political theatre at its very best.



There’s not much to envy – even among the rich – about life in medieval Europe where plagues and violent death were commonplace. But, as historical ensemble Blondel showed at St Luke’s, Charlton, the music was fantastic.
Using drums, recorders, shawms, gittern, fiddle and bagpipes, the quartet of Belinda Paul, Emily Baines, Lizzie Gutteridge and Arngeir Hauksson gave us a one-hour recital of songs popular in the royal courts of Spain in the late 1400s.
Many of the tunes were from the Iberian peninsula itself. But there were also tunes from the Low Countries and from England.  To my ear, one of all music’s finest noises is the haunting tone of a shawm. The only thing better is medieval pipes – and there were three sets giving it their all during this fabulous, if eccentric, little concert in this fabulous, if eccentric, little church. The Royal Greenwich International Early Music Festival returns to Blackheath Halls a mile away in November. This was a great taster for it.