Election 2010: How is Theatre Responding?
Ahead of polling day on Thursday, Whatsonstage.com takes a look at the way the most unpredictable election in recent memory is being covered by theatres across the country, from election night cabarets to satirical plays. You can add your own suggestions at the bottom of the page...
Posh at the Royal Court Theatre Downstairs (to 22 May) - Laura Wade's Posh details the extreme behaviour of the ‘fictional’ Riot club, an elite Oxford male dining-club that has striking similarities to the notorious Bullingdon. In a neat bit of programming on the Court’s part, former Bullingdon members George Osborne and David Cameron could take charge of the country, whilst their contemporary Boris Johnson controls London, during the play’s run.
Women, Power and Politics at the Tricyle Theatre (4 June-17 July) - Following recent seasons on Afghanistan, Black Britain and South Africa, the Tricycle turns its focus to the history and current role of women in politics in Great Britain. The season features twelve new short plays (in two parts - Then and Now), as well as performances of verbatim monologues drawn from interviews conducted with politicians including Edwina Currie, Clare Short, Ann Widdecombe and Jacqui Smith.
Counted? at London's County Hall (until 22 May) - Counted? is verbatim theatre in a 'verbatim setting'. Billed as a documentary play about British Democracy and “a fun antidote to election fever”, it tells the stories of real people, genuine voters and examines what it means to feel counted. Staged in the atmospheric and historic Debating Chamber at County Hall, the play targets voter apathy as it looks at the failing democratic system in Britain.
Stiffed! at the Tabard Theatre (to 9 May) - Stiffed! is a satirical comedy penned by two Westminster insiders from rival publications, Metro’s political editor John Higginson and the Sun’s Whitehall editor Clodagh Hartley. Based on the expenses scandal, the duo hope that the comedy will take our minds off the election: “We just want to entertain people, not be amazingly clever” Higginson told Metro recently, “It’s going on during a general election but we want it to be a timeout from everything because people are going to be bombarded with politics … what better escapism than comedy?”
No Expense Spared at the Jermyn Theatre (25 May-26 June) - Taking a more farcical look at the scandal - which included the infamous 'duck island' revelation and has so far led to criminal charges being brought against four MPs - is No Expense Spared. Written by Richard Stirling, (Over My Shoulder), it looks at the “domestic shenanigans” behind the closed doors of Westminster Village, as MPs and their families struggle to cope with the fall-out of the scandal.
Spin the Election Festival at the Barking Broadway (to 15 May) - With BNP leader Nick Griffin running against Margaret Hodge in Barking, the result in this part of East London will be anticipated not just by the local community but by the entire country. The Barking Broadway's mini-festival is billed as "an artistic response to all the hype and hubris", and features concerts, debates and revivals of Anders Lustgarten's recent play A Day at the Racists and Barrie Keeffe’s award-winning Sus (written for the 1979 election).
Gordon Brown: A Life in Theatre at Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre (6 May) - Theatregoers in Edinburgh can sample this special ‘guerilla theatre’ event, exploring the great dramatic figure of contemporary politics, Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Devised by Dominic Hill and David Greig, the script is still being written and will be performed as rehearsed readings on election night - interspersed with live coverage. It promises a "one night stand full of rage, comedy, insight, sober reflection and desperate idealism."
Election Drama - A Theatrical Response at the New Players Theatre (8 May) - Staged for one night only, this one-off event claims to be the fastest theatrical response to the election result - and with work being written, rehearsed and staged within 24hrs of the result, few would doubt that. Writers slated to take part include: Che Walker (The Frontline, Been So Long); Rex Obano (Slaves); Anders Lustgarten (A Day at the Racists); and Phil Willmott (director of Once Upon a Time at the Adephi).
Swing at The Cock Tavern in Kilburn (22 May-12 June) - Not to be outdone, the Cock Tavern is billing this improvised work as the "first full-length response to the general election". Set at a house party on election night after the votes have all been counted, the play will examine the results of the real-life election on 6 May and voters’ responses to it. Swing is devised and directed by Jamie Harper and Dan Muirden and designed by Moi Tran.
First Time Voters at the Bush Theatre (5 May) - nabokov and Drywrite present this evening of new writing inspired by the young people for whom 6 May will be the first chance to have their say in how the country is run. Developed through workshop sessions with young people in Hammersmith and Fulham, First Time Voters will be performed on the day before the polls open. As the country prepares to head to the polling stations, they'll be giving young voters a voice, "from the engaged to the apathetic, the sceptical to the passionate, the confused to the informed".
All Mouth and No Ballot at Liverpool's Static Gallery (6 May) - If you're in Liverpool and stuck for ideas of what to do on election night, you could do worse than to head down to the Static Gallery for this special cabaret, a "movable feast of scandalous drama, sleaze, live music, songs, satire, vegetables, original films, mud-slinging, dancing - and that's just the election results!" Performers include Bourgeois Pig, the Politician and his Wife and Knitting Woman at the Needlework Box of Free Speech. Ticket holders can also dance the night away with an all night DJ and election themed board games including tiddlywinks and snakes and ladders.