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Someone of Significance – The Network Theatre

The higher up the food chain in either industry or politics one ascends, the greater the level of responsibility, accountability and scrutiny. Rosie (Funlola Olufunwa) is on Brad’s (Simon Bass) team, the latter having been recently promoted to a senior position in a bank. They’re trying to close the deal on a ‘commercial space’ in a city in the United States (I don’t recall which one), and by ‘commercial space’ they really mean ‘mall’, and by ‘mall’ they really mean ‘shopping centre’. But there are ethical and moral considerations that Rosie has in mind, particularly with regards to the local community and independent retailers. The strength of her convictions is such that she leaves the corporate world behind to stand for political office – if you want to be cynical about it, she’s going from one form of high-level corruption to another.

Someone of Significance: Simon Bass and Funlola Olufunwa. Credit Vasiliki Verousi.
Someone of Significance: Simon Bass and Funlola Olufunwa. Credit Vasiliki Verousi.

Each has their reasons for falling head over heels, and the initial awkwardness that comes with getting to know one another is absent in this instance because of the work setting, in which both parties have behaved in a professional capacity. Indeed, their work often interrupts any personal time, or rather, technically speaking, their collaborative work is being interrupted by personal conversation, which turns to expressions of affection. Presumably, this turns into something else, given that an early scene is in Rosie’s hotel room (ahem), though the production spares the audience a full pants-down re-enactment, choosing instead to push on with a narrative about the consequences of mixing business with pleasure.

In some ways, the storyline becomes predictable, in the sense that in this day and age, with the ubiquity of mobile telephony and social media, it was never going to be very long before – one way or another – Brad and Rosie’s relationship (for that is what it is) is discovered. The bank’s board of directors do not take the news well: while dating a colleague is not illegal, over in America, where the play is set, workplace policies often prohibit employees from having personal relationships with any other employee.

The narrative arc is very clear, and I am grateful for a one-act play that tells its story in forward chronological order, rather than jumping back and forth between years and decades unnecessarily confusingly. In telling a story that spans several years, however, each new scene feels like a kangaroo hop (your reviewer’s attempt at describing a sudden lurch). In between scenes are soundbites of political speeches and punditry, which on reflection didn’t serve much purpose in adding to the storyline – it is the dialogue proper that provides insight into running for political office, with the various hoops to be jumped through and miscellaneous stakeholders to be satisfied.

This isn’t the first play to place society’s norms as obstacles to romantic love, and this one isn’t all that relatable either: not very many of us would become a managing director in an investment bank or run for Congress. Thankfully, the business and political jargon isn’t overdone in this play – I would have thought in reality, such conversations would be awash with acronyms impenetrable to laypersons. While the American accents could have been more consistent, this production leaves the audience wanting more, which is always better than outlasting one’s welcome. An ambitious play that manages to explore the current political landscape without leaving audiences politically alienated, it provides plenty of food for thought.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

What happens when two people meet who have nothing in common but their love for one another?

Someone of Significance follows the relationship of Rosie, a prominent leftwing politician, and Brad, the CEO of a multinational corporation, exploring the beliefs and structural barriers that keep us apart and the irresistible need for connection that brings us together.

The play is based on a short play by the same name that was developed as part of and performed by Chelsea Rep and The Acting Studio. The full length version of the play is being developed as part of the Young Vic’s Neighbourhood Voices Programme.

https://vaultfestival.com/

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