Review: Josie Long: The Future Is Another Place – Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh
Josie Long opens this year’s show by sharing her friend’s assumption that a bad government inspires the disenfranchised to create good art. As much as Long herself reserves judgement – instead opting for a childlike groan and a silly face – the hour that follows confirms that theory. This isn’t just good art, though; it’s visceral comedy delivered from the heart, spoken with intelligence and conviction. The Future Is Another Place is one of the gutsiest shows you’ll see this year.
The premise is simple: Long, aged 29 years old, has finally found her calling. She wants to rally for socialism, for equal opportunities…and against the Tories. Not all of them, per say; just the ones cutting education budgets and welfare funding.
It all sounds a bit serious (and it can be, especially when Long discloses how she nearly died in a car crash last November), but she’s been on stage long enough now to cover the lulls and the occasional awkward silence that invariably comes with a political show. That list of things she really likes is an impressive device. Her pacing is very impressive and the narrative arc flows well – which is pretty important if you’re trying to convince someone your opinion is the right one.
And convincing she is, too. Beneath the neurotic exterior there’s a cunning rhetoric at play here – the kind of political expression you’d expect from Stewart Lee, except with a little more warmth.
Long closes the show by reading a letter sent to her by a Black Panther activist who’s spent the past 31 years of his life in prison. It’s inspiring stuff, and the written word obviously resonates with her, too: in the handmade programme for The Future Is Another she writes, ‘I apologise if [the show] overruns but hope you can appreciate that the idea of the cuts being a necessity is one I’m a bit uncomfortable with at the moment.’ It’s not quite as eloquent as the Black Panther letter but bottled with the same spirit.
Besides, Long speaks with such passion you could listen to her until the, er, next election; and in a week when the disenfranchised rioted on the streets of London and Manchester, perhaps her message assumes more resonance now. Go and see Josie Long – you won’t regret it…unless you’re a Tory.
Date of live review: Friday 12th August 2011.