As the General Election looms, expect to see many suitably themed productions popping up. However maybe not one as devised, and possibly satirical, as this one. Chris New has worked with four actors to create characters and devise a piece of work over four weeks. They all started with nothing and the journey described is quite inspiring and intriguing.
They all walked into the rehearsal process with no characters which were developed over the first week, integrated and improvised within the second and third and polished during the fourth. As expected with this method, some final bits can be hit and miss. The result, however, to me, seems more like a work-in-progress than a finished product.
We start with a conversation between Brown and Holloway’s characters. I will attempt to not exactly portray who their characters are in this review as the guessing of ‘who they are’ for all the actors plays a vital part in the suspense of the production. Brown has kidnapped and tied up Holloway and is interrogating him. Brown gives an unnerving performance which is justified half-way through, however, his words can get lost in the mix at times. While Holloway’s performance is strong, and vocally you hang on every word. The interrogation goes on a little bit too long for my liking and with some unnaturally-phrased lines, turn some of it into something tedious.
The energy of the piece changes drastically when two other characters, Houghton and Pritchett arrive on stage. Houghton brings the energy on stage up several levels with her misguided, loud and insane character. She is welcomed by the audience and creates a bit of light relief from the interrogation. However, is this best? Her character is extreme and abrasive and the fact that she doesn’t tone it down, ever, she becomes an instrument for the audience to laugh at, and not always at the right time. With all this in mind, Houghton, delivers her complex character well and was probably the highlight for me. Pritchett’s character was less engaging and probably the character the audience had the least time with. More level-headed, his character fades more into the back of this cast of four.
The set is dark and grungy. It creates an atmosphere of eeriness. The small space in the Finborough compliments the piece. The sound is somewhat less on point than the set. The bass driven, sinister background noises used in places in the show, don’t seem to always fit. And the use of old-fashioned dance song during a fight scene seems misplaced.
The production strengthens along the way but at the end I see a promising production which may have a bit too much satire and not enough depth in its characters and storyline. It’s hard to avoid satire in a political play and nor should you completely avoid it. But too much of it can come across and some writing and storyline being a cop-out. Sometimes I felt overwhelmed knowing little about the characters and not being sure what they were referencing and whether or not I should know.
If this show was to develop further, it would improve massively but still, as it stands, it’s a statement. And good or bad, they are definitely saying more than the General Election is.
Review by Tomm Ingram
The world premiere of a new play specially created in response to the General Election by award-winning actor/director Chris New at the Finborough Theatre for a limited run of nine Sunday and Monday evening and Tuesday matinee performances from Sunday, 26 April 2015 – with a special extra performance on General Election Day itself on Thursday, 7th May 2015.
Following the sell-out run of The Precariat at the Finborough Theatre in 2013 and Smallholding at the Soho Theatre, Nuffield Theatre Southampton, and the High Tide Festival, director Chris New returns with a brand new play that will be written and developed in the lead up to the 2015 General Election. Using material generated through a process of research, improvisation and writing, the play will focus on a moment of desperation by an opportunistic loner presented with a one-in-a-million opportunity to come face to face with the ruling elite. What follows is a pressure-cooker exploration of power, disenfranchisement and pain tolerance…
The run will be accompanied by the return of FINBOROUGHFORUM, a series of informal discussions and debates on the General Election, after every performance on Sunday and Monday evenings. All events are free to ticketholders for that evening’s performance of the new play. FINBOROUGHFORUM events will all be Twitter friendly with live tweets from @FinboroughForum. Using the hashtag #finfor, the speakers will also answer questions posed on Twitter so everyone can be included, no matter where they are in the world.
118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED
Box Office 0844 847 1652
Book online at www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk
Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays, 26, 27, 28 April, 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12 May 2015
Sunday and Monday evenings at 7.30pm. Tuesday matinees at 2.00pm.
Additional performance on Election Day – Thursday, 7 May at 2.00pm.
Performance length: Approximately seventy minutes with no interval.
Tuesday 28th April 2015