I, Tommy

EDINBURGH FRINGE 2012

I, Tommy

Venue 14, The Gilded Balloon, Teviot

0131 622 6552

Tommy Sheridan was the socialist activist who became the champion of a campaign against Margaret Thatcher’s poll tax in the 1980s.  While in prison for defying a judge’s interdict he was elected to Glasgow City Council for the Pollak area.  He went on to win a seat in the first Scottish Parliament for the Scottish Socialist Party.  By the second election his party gained another five MSPs.

Tommy was brash, opinionated and populist.  As this play demonstrates, he was also his own number one fan. He was vain and narcissistic and believed that he could charm his way out of anything; a minor league Bill Clinton or Tony Blair. The ancient Greeks has a word for this attitude; hubris.

I, Tommy is riotously funny, but this farcical treatment just underscores how one man’s arrogance destroyed his party and set back for a generation the cause he claimed to believe in. Tommy, who cultivated an image of teetotal responsibility, was always a ladies’ man.  His downfall was to visit a swingers’ club in Manchester – without his glamorous wife Gail – and lie about it.  He could have resigned as party Convenor, admitted a mistake, and moved on as did Paddy ‘Pantsdown’ Ashdown a few years earlier.

Tommy’s risky strategy was to brazen it out, perjure himself in court and brand all his comrades on the SSP executive as back-stabbing, lying, treacherous, ungrateful bastards. It worked, at first.  His initial court victory over the News of the World was at the expense of his comrades who found themselves facing up to five years in prison for perjury.

In the end, the onetime revolutionary firebrand’s house of cards came down on top of him.  Sentenced to three years for perjury, he served only one year before his release.  Today, left wing socialism lies helpless in the gutter where he left it and he has become just another celebrity, a tragic laughingstock.  The only person he has to blame for his predicament is Tommy Sheridan.

Des McClean captures Tommy’s mixture of passion and pugnacious bombast perfectly.  Colin McCredie, our narrator, has a sad, resigned look about him in the role of Tommy’s betrayed former friend and comrade Alan McCombes. Laugh loudly, laugh heartily, but take this message to hear, beware of charismatic would-be saviours, they may have feet of clay.

***** Five Stars

David Kerr

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