Robin Kingsland

"Keeping your hands clean can bea very dirty business"


SLEAZE, set in the 1960's, is a musical inspired by Shakespeare's Measure for Measure. With a book and lyrics by Robin Kingsland, and with music and additional lyrics by Chris Barton (See below, left), the show was first performed by upper School Students of Westminster School in 2008.


THE PLOT

PM David Dukes is under pressure. His administration has seen a burgeoning of brothels and questionable gentleman's clubs, many run by the notorious Pompey Twins, and his popularity is plummeting. 

Salvation comes - it seems almost literally - in the shape of maverick back-bencher Simon Di Angelo. He speaks his mind, and thumps a tub for a New Moral Crusade - what's more, the people seem to love it. Dukes, under the guidance of his mentor, Lady Escalus, invents a "Fact- finding Mission", and promotes Di Angelo to acting PM. His plan is to step aside while Di Angelo does his dirty work. Di Angelo will clean house, while Dukes, in disguise, gauges just how bad things have got. Dukes will then return, fire Di Angelo before things get excessive and all will be well.  But Dukes underestimates Di Angelo's self-righteous zeal and determination. Before long, a young pop-star, Claudio Feather, has been sentenced to death for impregnating his young fiancee before they are married, breaking the new morality code.

Enter Charley Lucre, a once campaigning journalist who has long since lost his way, and now scratches a living as a gutter-press hack. initially looking for a cheap scoop, he tracks down Claudio's Novitiate sister, Isobel. But he soon discovers that both the new moral movement, and its squeaky-clean instigator, have their darker sides. With Isobel's help, he rediscovers his campaigning spirit, and mounts a campaign to challenge Di Angelo and save Claudio. 

What follows is part political satire,  part chaste and bitter-sweet romance, as novice and hack find themselves drawn to each other in a strange love story that must remain unfulfilled. And the plot culminates with a shamed Di Angelo snapped in his underwear and "in flagrante by one of Charlie's gutter press photographer pals -   "Authority...dressed in little briefs!"

With a witty script full of sideways swipes at aspects of contemporary politics - spin and presentation, moral grandstanding and personal duplicity among them - SLEAZE also draws on the time, mores and personalities of the sixties - including free love, the glamourising of gangland, and the capital punishment debate


To read an extract and some lyrics from the show, click here

Chris Barton - Composer/ co-lyricist

Chris is the director of Drama at Westminster School. Before teaching, he directed for the Royal National Theatre, Watford Palace Theatre, Basingstoke Theatre Royal, California Shakespeare Festival, SNAP Theatre Company, International Theatre Research Group KISS in The Netherlands, and as associate director in the West  End and on Broadway, with Ian McKellen's "Richard III" and Stephen Daldry's "An Inspector Calls", which he also recreated in Tokyo. Chris has taught and directed at numerous London Drama Schools, and for several years ran The Contemporary Shakespeare Company, Chris is also a musician, writer and actor.

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