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If Only

David Edgar Chichester

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#1 Pharaoh's number 2

Pharaoh's number 2

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 12:40 PM

If Only. No, not another thread on the missed opportunities of Barnum, but an altogether more satisfying couple of hours spent in the theatre.

David Edgar's new play is heavily political. The premise is that a Tory candiate, a Lib Dem staffer and a Labour special advisor are stuck together, by chance,  in Malaga airport, where all flights are grounded because of the Ash Cloud. They decide to drive up to Calais in order to get home, and on the way are joined by a hippy 18 year old girl who has a rather good knowledge of politics. Sounds a bit forced, no? Well, Act 2 is set four yrs later in 2014, in a church in rural Belgium, for the commemoration of WW1. And the three of them are back together, and oh wait, the girl appears too.

Even if the premise if slightly unbelievable/contrived, it does allow for some fascinating discussions on politics now, and how much of a game it really is. And it's very well acted by the cast of four: Jamie Glover, Martin Hutson, Charlotte Lucas and Eve Ponsonby.  Angus Jackson's direction is slick, and Ruth Sutcliffe's design makes great use of the Minerva space. There's even a fully functioning Peugeot 205 on stage.

Worth a look.

#2 xanderl


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Posted 18 July 2013 - 01:07 PM

The premise sounds similar to the 1980s Keith Barron sitcom "Duty Free"
"witty ... both made me laugh but also gave me pause" - Mark Shenton, The Stage

#3 David J

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 03:20 PM

I actually thought this was a dud myself. This play is trying to be a political comedy but with so much non-stop jargon the wittiest comment Edgar could think up was about an apostrophe.

The actors are really playing representations of their characters' parties and the moment of humanity in the second act is too little too late. The only highlight would be when Charlotte Lucas is forced into a corner and made to face reality.

Furthermore, if Edgar thinks everybody in my generation speaks with the word "like" in every sentence then he has another thing coming! I almost felt embarrassed for Eve Ponsonby.
My reviews can also be found at "A Night at the Theatre"


#4 Emsworthian


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Posted 28 July 2013 - 06:42 AM

I caught the last matinee yesterday and found it a curate's egg.  There are lots of  sharp and witty one-liners but some of the political discussions go on too long.  The implications for the Lib-Dems of entering a pact with the Conservatives, the largest party, or Labour, where a majority could be cobbled together with the "odds and sods" were spelt out in a rather laboured (no pun intended) way.  It happened only three years ago and I can still remember all the arguments from that time.   The second half was more dramatic but it was set in 2014 and I found I really had to concentrate to catch up on what had happened and all the ramifications. This is the third political drama I've seen in the last couple of months - the other two being "This House" and "The Audience" - and for me it was by far the least enjoyable (although it was very well acted)  Possibly I'm just jaded by political drama.   ( BTW the car wouldn't start and had to be pushed on by stage hands. )

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