Simon Munnery’s Alan Parker Urban Warrior review: he offers a vital counterbalance to the insane path our world leaders are currently taking
PUBLISHED: 12:40 28 February 2020 | UPDATED: 12:40 28 February 2020
Supplied by Norwich Arts Centre
Alan Parker Urban Warrior brought anarchy, badly drawn placards and a solution to the Anglia Square issue to the Norwich Arts Centre on the self-proclaimed prophet of the discontented masses’ farewell tour.
Simon Munnery's iconic character made his name in the 90s where his regular appearances on Radio One and contributions to the alternative music press made him living breathing part of the sub-culture he lampooned. At this time of political unrest and climate emergency his return could not be better timed.
The first half was a tight routine of mostly tried and tested gags and one-liners. "Technology" he shouted, pointing at the microphone that his hoarse bark rendered unnecessary for much of the show, "too much tech, not enough knowledge!" The front rows were kept busy playing instruments, holding up signs and being quizzed on their names, jobs and what they do to cool a bowl of hot soup in a discussion about global warming. He suggested adapting wind turbines to blow on the Earth and cool it down.
Parker is a character who has grown in depth and detail over the years making him at once ludicrous and believable. He still has the trademark bomber jacket covered in slogans scrawled in Tippex along with hi-viz vest, combat trousers and wellies (labelled left and lefter). An iPhone duct taped to his ankle was a more modern addition. The costume provided pocket space for a plethora of props: Some practical, some musical, others just bizarre. He also produced the ingredients for a rather unappetising pint-sized cocktail that he downed in one!
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The sardonic veteran of 90s rave culture brought the first half to a fitting conclusion with a reworking of The Orb's Little Fluffy Clouds relocated to Watford.
The second half of the show went off-script as Parker addressed problems written by members of the audience on slips of paper. Many drew the generic response "I'm in favour," including "disruptions to train services to Great Yarmouth". The issue of deforestation prompted a call to bomb Brazil to save the rainforest while on the issue of Anglia Square he replied "change it to an oblong." Such impractical solutions delivered with conviction and a complete lack of knowledge are at the root of Munnery's character though he might not have anticipated how common they would become in real life.
In 2020 Parker is naturally a supporter of Extinction Rebellion and has Greta Thunberg Tippexed on his jacket in a list of heroes. But in other respects he is still stuck in the 90s. There was no mention of Brexit and his attacks on the Tories were mostly directed at Thatcher.
Some people never change. At 80 he will still be listening to Sham 69, with anarchic slogans Tippexed on his zimmer frame. That day might never come though as he ended the show with a radical solution to climate change that could mean that it really is farewell.
He will be missed. He might be a nightmare if his radicalism had any influence but on stage he offers a vital counterbalance to the insane path our world leaders are currently taking. If we can laugh then look a little lefter the world might be a better place.