This is a time when democracy is well and truly under the spotlight. Following the election of 2015 – with a result that none of the pollsters foretold – and then the EU referendum, there are a lot of people wondering if letting the great British public have a vote is the best way to govern the country. However how much democracy does the UK really have. Unlike most countries in the world, the populous of the UK do not elect either the head of state or the head of government, despite the importance of both roles. One is appointed by dint of birth and the other by a vote of their fellow politicians. Is this the best way? And if not, then what is the alternative? Well Fictive Theatre have a had a look at a potential future in their production Lottery which I caught at the New Diorama theatre recently.
In some future time, a chap (Elliot Bornemann) is sitting in a jury room sipping coffee. He is soon joined by a young lady (Ava Pickett) and the two begin that type of stilted conversation that occurs when two strangers first start chatting. There is obviously some chemistry between them and the two flirt a bit before having to go back into their deliberations. The next time we see them, they are having a drink and the lady tells the lad a secret, She has won the lottery draw to be Prime Minister of the UK. As she takes on her role, ably assisted by her advisor (Rhys Tees), she realises that being PM is not necessarily the sinecure she thought it was, and every political decision she takes has consequences that even affect her nearest and dearest.
In writing Lottery, Simon Paris – who also directed – takes an idea – the PM is selected by lottery – and lets it run through his mind coming out with some very amusing ideas that are quite scary – and will probably end up as government policy if we’re not careful. There were some very nice touches in the script, particularly around the ever changing world of political correctness – what is the PC way to describe a ‘mind map’? I also liked the final conundrum given to the PM concerning the sale of arms to terrorists, something the UK would never do of course. I do think however that, at times the need for comedy rather stilted the writing which could easily have gone deeper particularly when looking at the actual power the PM has to do things without being controlled or held to account. However, I have to say, both the opening and closing scenes were first rate and the interactions between the characters brilliantly written.
Turning to the acting, the cast were uniformly good though I thought Elliot Bornemann really stood out in his role of an ‘everyman’ who tries to keep the PM’s feet on the floor. Rhys Tees’s portrayal of the advisor as a cross between an affable Sir Humphrey Appleby and Malcolm Tucker at this worst, worked extremely well and meant there was a continual, and rather enjoyable, air of uncertainty as to how he would react to any comment from the PM. Ava Pickett’s performance was a bit of a conundrum for me. At times, particularly when with Elliot, she came across as a loveable, slightly eccentric lady enjoying her flirting and hoping for more. The problem, for me, came when she was PM which felt a little bit overacted at times and distracted a bit from the story itself.
I loved Magda Iwanska’s set, a flow of shredded paper coming from the ceiling and flowing over half the stage area, both beautiful and fascinating. As we moved on, every change of costume brought more shredded paper, giving a wonderful idea of the PM being overwhelmed by the red tape and bureaucracy of government without loads of dialogue. Speaking of costumes, I absolutely loved the hot pink suit worn on Wednesday and now want one to wear to my office once a week – if that doesn’t scare the locals, nothing will.
Summing up then, Lottery was a thoroughly enjoyable production. The premise behind it is quite fascinating and could, I think have been explored more by the writer. Overall, the show gave me some laughs and kept me entertained and who can say fairer than that?
Review by Terry Eastham
Let’s get rough with them! Like- I’m gonna eat your children rough. Throw acid in their face rough!
Well we can’t throw acid in their face.
Metaphorical acid I mean.
Yep, sure, metaphorical acid, agreed.
Ah, home finally. I wonder if they delivered that parcel, nope. That’s another day without socks then. Three sugars, a little treat, no biscuits though. I wonder who ate them? Bloody Shirley I bet. I’ll keep an eye out. Ah letters. Junk. Junk. This one has nice paper, nice and taught. No one sends letters anymore. I’ll send a reply even if I hate them. It’s a dying art. I could have sausages for dinner. “Congratulations. You have been selected to be the next prime minister. Your term will commence in four weeks.”
I’m going to need some socks.
NDT GRADUATE EMERGING COMPANY SHOWCASE
This production is supported by the New Diorama Emerging Companies Fund.
Guido Lueches – Lighting Designer
Magda Iwanska- Set Designer
Simon Paris- Writer & Director
Produced by Fictive Theatre
Photography by Joe Brayford