Monday, 14 March 2011

Clegg cast as creature but Balls gets the monster part

The biggest theatre sensation in London just now is Danny Boyle's stage production of Frankenstein. Each night actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternate the roles of Victor Frankenstein and the Creature in a fantastic show.

Depending on which night you go to the National Theatre on the South Bank you get a different interpretation of the doctor and the creature as they vie for supremacy.

So, as we waited for curtains up on the first joint Ed Miliband and Ed Balls press conference this morning, we wondered who would play the part of leader?

They appeared in almost identical stage costumes, the purple tie of the senate. Each used his turn in answering the questions to talk as if he were the boss. Depending on when you looked up from your notes on reducing VAT on fuel or re-imposing the banking tax it was clear that Ed was in charge - whichever one of them was speaking.

There was no doubt who labour had cast as the creature though. Ed Miliband took quite a swipe at Nick Clegg. He advised the Lib Dem leader to "lie low" if he wants to secure a "yes" vote in the AV referendum on May 5th.

Miliband said he would share a platform with anyone who would help him win the AV campaign. But he won't share a platform with Clegg, "because I don't think he will help us win the referendum".

There was meant to be a joint Labour, Lib Dem and Green event in support of the AV campaign this week but when Clegg tried to elbow in on Charles Kennedy's gig Labour called off. Labour spinners were gleefully describing Nick Clegg as a toxic brand in the AV campaign.

This performance looked as if was all going according to plan until Ed Balls decided to revert to monster mode and he claimed George Osborne would go so far as use the Japanese earthquake as an excuse for growth being downgraded.

According to the script, Ed Balls said: "The whole point about being Chancellor is to anticipate unforeseen events, to err on the side of caution. It won't be good enough if George Osborne stands up next week in the Budget and says the reason he has to downgrade his growth forecast is the cold winter, or the Irish bailout or because of the spike in world oil prices or the aftermath of the Japanese earthquake. If he had taken a more cautious approach to reducing the deficit and also acted to sustain growth then our economy would not be so vulnerable now to these unforeseen events."

Pointscoring and politicising the tragedy in Japan while the rescue efforts are still going on to find survivors has caused a gasp of predictable outrage from the Tory instant response team.

Oh dear, I don't think the Ed and Ed show will get the reviews that Danny Boyle had.

BTW: Frankenstein is sold out but my top London tip of the month: Go along to the NT at about 5.30pm with a good book. The second floor box office opens for returns at six pm, by which time there will already be a dozen people queuing. Be patient, keep the faith, and you might get great seats. We did this on the evening the play was getting rave reviews in all the London papers and managed to get in.

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