COUNTED? To 4 June.


devised by Steve Bottoms, Ben Freedman and Mimi Poskitt.

Debating Chamber County Hall SE1 7PB To 22 May.
no performance 26-28 April.
Mon-Sat and Sun 25 April 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm.
TICKETS: 0844 482 8008.

then West Yorkshire Playhouse (Courtyard Theatre) Leeds 25-29 May 2010.
TICKETS: 0113 213 7700.
7.45pm Mat Thu 2pm & Sat2.30pm.
Post-show Discussion 26 May.

then Council Chamber Bath University 1-4 June 2010.
TICKETS: 01225 448844.
Runs 1hr 25min No interval.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 22 April.

Theatre does democracy.

Events upset the best-laid schemes. This piece on why people vote, or don’t, was researched and publicised when the 6 May General Election was expected to have an extremely low turn-out. It began its run just as it seems voters will be storming the polls.

Yet Counted? still includes many interesting views from interviews by Leeds Politics Prof Stephen Coleman and others. Sometimes by chance; having interviewed a prisoner, an unplanned session with her warder throws up several of the evening’s most original points.

All ages, a variety of classes and ethnicities and all levels of engagement feature, from non-voting to standing as an Independent councillor. There’s good sense among voters and ballot refuseniks alike. One of three young women, asked whether she’d vote to paint the room blue or yellow, reasonably replies she wouldn’t if she didn’t want either.

People won’t be bullied into choices nowadays, as politicians are learning (it gives an irony to the theatre company name Look Left, Look Right). And there’s a cynicism over politicos listening. When people asked for a community centre and got a sculpture instead, why should they bother voting for the people who ignore them?

When someone disagrees with their MP saying a BNP victory was a bad day for Democracy, they’re not supporting the BNP, but pointing-out what the result said to the political establishment – if they were listening. That’s why, someone says, people vote in TV celebrity shows: there’s perceived to be a defined, soon-achieved result reflecting what people want.

Hence another main point. Voter apathy isn’t new. In the supposed political ferment after World War II J B Priestley wrote his Letter to a Returning Serviceman, advising against saying you want nothing to do with politics, because politics wants something to do with you. Counted?s three young non-voters were in a Sure Start centre, a place that wouldn’t be there (and may not be much longer) if not for an election outcome. Nor would the Minimum Wage, referred to later.

Here is a fascinating, challenging spectrum, its multiple, varied voices heard with dignity, well-characterised by a skilful cast.

Cast: Donna Berlin, Simon Poland, Balvinder Sopal, Peter Stickney, Molly Taylor, Jamie Zubairi.

Directors: Steve Bottoms, Ben Freedman, Mimi Poskitt.
Designer: Joanna Scotcher.
Video: Dick Straker for Mesmer.
Assistant designer: Carla Goodman.

2010-04-24 11:38:00

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