Molly Taylor in documentary-play Counted
West Yorkshire Playhouse
25 May 2010 WOS Rating: Reader Reviews: View and add to our user reviews Walking into Look Left Look Right’s production of Counted I was expecting a political performance disguising a lecture. After two months of unbridled media attention on the British voting system and voter apathy I was unsure whether it would be able to sustain interest for 80 minutes, and I was certain it wouldn’t change my views on the matter. But that’s the thing about Counted: its aim is not change your mind on voting, rather to create awareness of Britain’s attitude today and it does this in an extremely successful way.
Written and directed by
Mimi Poskitt, Ben Freedman and Stephen Bottoms (the latter is Professor of Drama and Theatre Studies at University of Leeds) it works mainly due to its documentary-style set-up. In a simple, striking law court-esque set by Joanna Scotcher, the action is directed by a university lecturer (played by Simon Poland) gathering up his research on Britain’s view of voting, yet this character never appears instructive or even guiding. Instead, he offers the audience prompting questions which encourage us to reassess why we vote and what voting means to each of us. The dialogue is taken from transcripts of interviews conducted by Professor Steven Coleman at the University of Leeds, and notably for an audience member of Counted at WYP, all of this research was carried out in West Yorkshire, making the performance particularly relevant to a Leeds audience. All but one of the acting ensemble multi-role and do so with ease, their credible accents ensuring that the little of snippets of interviews seem like a realistic interpretation which, when interwoven with the film and projections, lends itself well to the humour and humility of the piece, with Molly Taylor worth singling out for her stellar contribution. Counted is a genuine and thought-provoking piece of theatre; without managing to have any visible political leaning it conveys to its audience the difference between ‘being counted and feeling counted’ within the British political system. Its critics would argue that it doesn’t offer up any solution to the overwhelming disillusionment it portrays, yet Counted is not about resolving the problems but providing food for thought for its audiences without placing judgement on those who are ignorant or critical of the voting process. It is productions like this that should be watched by all, not in the hope of persuading them this way or that but in catalysing an ongoing process that continues far beyond the end of the performance. My only regret is that Counted did not grace the West Yorkshire Playhouse’s stage before the General Election. Who knows what it could have done if it had.
- Hannah Stockton
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