A NEW PLAY FOR THE GENERAL ELECTION
by Chris New.
Finborough Theatre above The Finborough Arms 118 Finborough Road SW10 9ED To 12 May 2015.
Sun-Mon 7.30pm Tue 2pm.
Runs 45min No interval.
TICKETS: 0844 847 1652.
www.finbooroughtheatre.co.uk (no booking fee by ’phone or online).
Review: Timothy Ramsden 5 May.
Tedious and brief.
It can be useful to have a name ready-made for a pun, as does Chris New for this play. New is an experienced actor and it’s hard to escape the thought that without his acting eminence this project would have had little chance of making it past the Finborough’s normally excellent quality control.
It has nothing to say about the British General Election of 2015 (if there is anything there it’s never articulated and remains wreathed in the mists of obscurity), nor about electoral matters in general. If anything, it harks back to the political-aggro drama of the 1970s, though there’s nothing of the specific anger or the ferocity of Howard Brenton in Magnificence and Tony Bicât’s short film Skinflick, which end with a kidnapped politician stood with his head in a sack sewn-up with explosive.
The kidnapped politician in New’s play is called Tom but is clearly George Osborne. That’s what the cast-list says and there’s an attempt simultaneously to suggest he is and to disguise that he clearly isn’t through concealing clothing and a two-dimensional frontage. Overall, it’s clumsy and distracting.
There’s a lot of ranting and anger, which allows Tom/George with his repeated statements that everything can be sorted out to seem a figure of reason and consideration. Though perhaps the point is you can’t believe a politician, especially when they’re trying to get themselves out of a hole, and were the cause, somehow, of the anger itself.
There’s something about Tom/George’s involvement with kidnapper Danny’s friend having gone missing, though if this is an intended metaphor for the deprivations of Osborne’s Austerity it’s hardly apparent. Especially when she comes in with a new partner, and is called Maggie. Perhaps she’s defected to the Right side.
It’s difficult to know, really. Or to care. Similarly, the fact that a play advertised as lasting 70 minutes runs only to 45 could suggest it was never really finished. But that’s subsumed by relief there isn’t another hefty slice awaiting us.
The actors all work hard. But, as a play for the General Election this isn’t going to win votes.
Daniel Smith: Jumaane Brown.
George Osborne: Charlie Hollway.
Maggie Jenkins: Emily Houghton.
Richard Burrows: Tim Pritchett.
Director: Chris New.
Designer: Kate Unwin.
Lighting: Douglas Green.
Sound: Alexandra-Faye Braithwaite.