Theatre Of The Absurd Presents C’est La Vie (Enhanced Edition)


Union Square Music, BMG



Madness is back in full force with the release of the digitial download version of the Expanded Enhanced Edition of their album on April 25th, 2024. This extended edition is available as a limited-edition 2CD hardback book deluxe version that offers fans a treasure trove of musical delights, featuring five thrilling new tracks born from the original album sessions, alongside a captivating selection of seven previously unreleased live recordings from the electrifying 2023 C’est La Vie tour. Among these gems is the band’s dynamic rendition of The Specials’ timeless hit, ‘Friday Night Saturday Morning’.

Theatre Of The Absurd Presents C’est La Vie has been released in six separate formats, making it the first Madness album to be marketed in so many multiple configurations. Still, it’s typical for some high-profile artists to issue even more varieties. This Compact Disc issue, aptly named “Compact Digital Optical Polycarbon Edition”, is one of the six formats released by BMG. Some of the Limited Edition formats have since sold out. It was noted that all the formats were issued without the band’s knowledge.

In the early months of 2023, amidst the gritty industrial sprawl of Cricklewood, Madness embarked on a transcendent musical voyage that promised to redefine their trajectory. Within the hallowed confines of their recording sessions, overseen by the seasoned maestro Matt Glasbey, each note found its place in a symphony of purpose. While Glasbey’s skilled hand lent every track an aura of finesse, the anthem “In My Street” bore the indelible stamp of Madness‘ revered collaborators, Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley.

Fueled by the mantra “Let Madness be Madness,” the band approached each session with a liberating fervour, embracing their quirks and idiosyncrasies as essential ingredients in their creative alchemy. Describing the recording process as a “perfect antidote to the chaos of the past few years,” they found themselves propelled into a realm of creative synergy, where they felt truly “in the zone.”

The fruits of their labour were unveiled to the world on a momentous day, September 27, 2023, as “Theatre of the Absurd Presents C’est La Vie.” The eponymous single led the charge, its debut on The Radio 2 Breakfast Show heralding the arrival of Madness‘ latest magnum opus. Adding an extra layer of intrigue to the announcement, the band enlisted the talents of esteemed British actress Helen Mirren, whose dramatic reading of select lyrics infused the unveiling with a palpable sense of theatrical flair.

Further enriching the album’s tapestry is a special prologue narrated by the acclaimed actor Martin Freeman, winner of Emmy and BAFTA Awards. Freeman’s longstanding admiration for the band culminated in a unique bond forged during a chance encounter at a meet-and-greet, an anecdote that underscores the profound connection between Madness and their devoted fans.

Delving deeper into the album’s thematic undercurrents, composer and keyboardist Mike ‘Barso’ Barson sheds light on the title track’s reflection of our turbulent times. Barson’s poignant musings reveal a desire to retreat from the world’s madness, a sentiment wryly encapsulated by the suggestion to rename the band ‘Sanity’ instead.

This convergence of talent, vision, and unadulterated Madness culminates in what critics hailed as the band’s “most harmonious recording experience to date.” As the album’s melodies reverberate through the airwaves, Madness once again reaffirms their status as purveyors of timeless brilliance, leaving an indelible mark on the musical landscape for generations to come.


Territory: Worldwide

Release Date: June 7, 2024
Format: Digital
Limited Edition: No

Label: Union Square Music, BMG

Manufactured: Digital Distribution

Disc Colour: Silver
Pressing: Digital Release
Release Type: Bootleg


Peak Position: 1
First Chart Date: 30/11/2023
Weeks in Chart: 5
Position DatePosition
30/11/2023 1
07/12/2023 26
14/12/2023 49
21/12/2023 72
28/12/2023 69


1 1 Prologue "Mr Beckett Sir..." Spoken Word by Martin Freeman. 0:13
1 2 Theatre Of The Absurd 4:15
1 3 If I Go Mad 4:36
1 4 Baby Burglar 4:07
1 5 Act One "Surrounded On All Sides..." Spoken Word by Martin Freeman. 0:11
1 6 C'est La Vie 3:10
1 7 What On Earth Is It (You Take Me For?) 3:07
1 8 Hour Of Need 4:06
1 9 Act Two "The Damsel In Distress.." Spoken Word by Martin Freeman. 0:13
1 10 Round We Go 4:17
1 11 Act Three "The Situation Deteriorates..." Spoken Word by Martin Freeman. 0:24
1 12 Lockdown And Frack Off 3:17
1 13 Beginners 101 4:21
1 14 Is There Anybody Out There? 3:22
1 15 The Law According To Dr. Kippah 5:34
1 16 Epilogue "And So Ladies And Gentlemen..." Spoken Word by Martin Freeman. 0:18
1 17 Run For Your Life 3:59
1 18 Set Me Free (Let Me Be) 3:38
1 19 In My Street Produced by Langer Winstanley 3:46
1 20 Fin "Ladies And Gentlemen" Spoken Word by Martin Freeman. 0:15
1 21 I'd Do Anything (If I Could) 3:53
1 22 No Reason 3:09
1 23 Hello Sun 3:20
1 24 Long Goodbye 3:23
1 25 Culture Vulture 3:35
1 26 Theatre Of The Absurd Live From The C'est La Vie Tour 3:50
1 27 C'est La Vie Live From The C'est La Vie Tour 3:12
1 28 Hour Of Need Live From The C'est La Vie Tour 4:19
1 29 Round We Go Live From The C'est La Vie Tour 4:30
1 30 Run For Your Life Live From The C'est La Vie Tour 4:08
1 31 In My Street Live From The C'est La Vie Tour 3:51
1 32 Friday Night, Saturday Morning Live From The C'est La Vie Tour 3:48


Mike Barson Keyboards, Piano, Organ, Marimba, Tubular Bells, Programming, Crotales, Wurlitzer, Vox Organ, Bells, Hammond Organ, Clavinet Band
Chris Foreman Guitar, Programming Band
Lee Thompson Backing Vocals, Vocals, Tenor Saxophone, Spoken Word Band
Mark Bedford Bass, Double Bass Band
Daniel Woodgate Drums Band
Graham McPherson Backing Vocals, Vocals, Percussion Band
Martin Freeman Spoken Word Special Guest
Mez Clough Backing Vocals, Percussion Session Musician
Mike Kearsey Trombone Session Musician
Steve Hamilton Baritone Saxophone Session Musician
Joe Auckland Trumpet Session Musician
Tina Jacobs Lim Violin Session Musician
Ruth Elder Violin Session Musician
Samuel Kennedy Viola Session Musician
Richard Phillips Cello Session Musician
Matt Glasbey Percussion, Programming, Synths Session Musician
Johnson Etienne Backing Vocals Session Musician
Darren Fordham Backing Vocals Session Musician
Matthew Ward Violin Session Musician
Dan Oates Violin Session Musician
Kit Massey Violin Session Musician
Rachel Robson Viola Session Musician
Rachel Lander Cello Session Musician
Noel Watson Programming, Turntabalist Session Musician


Producer, Recording Engineer Matt Glasbey Produced and Mixed
Producer Clive Langer 'In My Street'
Producer Alan Winstanley 'In My Street'
Engineer, Recording Engineer Andy Coules 'If I Go Mad', 'Baby Burglar', 'Hour Of Need' 'C'est La Vie' & Additional percussion, guitar and piano recorded live at the Palladium.
Engineer Oli Jacobs Excerpts of Live Orchestral Recordings from Madness XL, Kenwood House.
Assistant Engineer Ada Binaj 'Beginners 101'.
Recording Studio Stirling Holdings Limited
Recording Studio RAK Studios 
Recording Studio Kenwood House 
Remastered By Dick Beetham
Graphic Design Paul Agar Design & layout
Photographer Ralph John Perou Madness Photography
Orchestrator Mike Kearsey Brass & Horn Arrangement
Orchestrator Ruth Elder String Arrangement & Orchestration
Orchestrator Tina Jacobs Lim String Arrangement & Orchestration
Band, Orchestrator Mike Barson String & Horn Arrangement & Orchestration
Orchestrator Will Gardner Conductor & String Arrangement


Phonographic Copyright ℗ CTUN LLP
Copyright © CTUN LLP
Licensed To BMG Rights Management (UK)


Record Label CTUN LLP


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