Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Politics on Stage in the West End

We couldn’t help but notice how politically focused some of the productions are. Many are very poignant and discuss that are very much a part of contemporary culture today.
Some are focused on key political figures of the recent past from around the world but it’s the British-focused plays that seem the most risky and controversial. At a time like now, when Britain is in the world’s spotlight, to have so much attention on British politics is particularly brave.
Nevertheless, there is something dramatic, secretive and controversial about world politics, and it’s clear audiences want theatre to lift the lid on the secrets of past politicians.
Democracy, a play by Michael Frayn is very timely, focusing around the difficulties surrounding the coalition government in Germany in 1974. The show, which is based on fact, depicts the final months in office of the West German Chancellor, Willy Brandt. There is suspicion surrounding Stasi spies infiltrating his inner circle and it explores the lengths to which Brandt is willing to go to save his government.  The play is stylish and full of political intrigue. Democracy is playing at The Old Vic until 28th July 2012.
A Walk on Part: The Fall of New Labour has just closed in the West End but had major success during its 4 week run. The play is based on Chris Mullin’s diary entries. He is the former Sunderland South MP. Full of political humour and satire, the play portrays the turbulent time of the British Labour Party during the transition from Tony Blair to Gordon Brown. Quite ingeniously, 5 actors play over 100 characters in politics including John Prescott, Brown, Tony and Cherie Blair.
Yes, Prime Minister is a stage adaptation of the original sitcom of the same name. The stage play has been brought into the present day. The classic pairing of Jim Hacker and Sir Humphrey remain, but the play is scattered with topical references, including some to BlackBerrys and to a coalition agreement. The biting satire scorns the Prime Minister’s handling of the Afghan war, the Euro crisis, and the dog-eat-dog international scraps over oil reserves.  The moral debate surrounding a possible 15 year old prostitute and a visiting dignitary also seems very relevant, given the ever-present moral mazes in today’s news. Yes, Prime Minister is booking until January 2013 at the Trafalgar Studios.
Posh is an original play by young writer Laura Wade and is set around an elite dining society at Oxford University. Although not set in typically political surroundings, obvious themes of class, education, and elitism are all currently relevant debates in contemporary British society. The club leader, James, inspired by his Tory MP godfather, decides to start a revolution naming them, ‘The Riot Club’.  Posh is playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre until the 4th of August 2012.

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