Pros: Intelligent idea in a knock out venue
Cons: It didn’t live up to my expectations as the songs didn’t fit naturally and the execution was lacking
After the initial shock of how beautiful the inside of St Pauls Church is, I took a pew and waited for the lights to dim. The promise of a political musical is always one to get me excited but unfortunately this one just didn’t deliver. The concept alone of highlighting the place of social media within the tactics of modern day politicians is excellent and the venue is indisputably breathtaking, but the acting sometimes missed the mark and was less passionate and believable than I would have hoped. The premise is good, so with work on the execution and some script adaptations I believe this could be a very interesting piece.
The musical follows a social media ‘princess’, Helen Holiday (Sarah Deeas), who has a large following on various popular platforms and is recruited by politician Paul Power (Jonny Parlett) to aid him in his campaign to become Prime Minister. This team takes on the American idea of a Running Mate. It plays with the idea of censorship and false promises in politics and eludes to the vague statements made by modern politicians as they pander to an audience to gain leadership in an election. There are moments within the script that are absolute gems but the musical form is not necessarily appropriate, and the break from text to song often feels abrupt and jolting; the tone of the songs doesn’t always fit with the tone of the play. This is not to say that the melodies of the songs aren’t gorgeous, just that the play could have stood entirely without them.
As the plot began to twist and shift out of favour for our protagonists I was eager to see how this would be resolved in the denouement. Unfortunately for me it fell flat and despite the optimistic song at the end I felt that nothing was gained from the whole lead up of the narrative when it ended in such a way.
The interior of the church is gorgeous with its large open space and glorious decorative chandeliers; truly a grand space for a play and I enjoyed being able to experience it. Due to the theatre being inside the main space of a church not much could be said for the staging and set. Other than a few chairs and a waste paper bin, the setting was sparse and even props were few and far between. Lighting was done well considering the setting, with dramatic spotlights enhancing the tense moments and doing so in such a way as not to blind either actor or audience. The band played beautifully and it was good to be able to see them to the left of the stage.
Overall, conceptually it could have been brilliant and with more work and some creases ironed out it would improve greatly, but the execution of the play left me wishing it had really demanded so much more of itself.
Written By: Damian Appleby
Director: Ada Alexandra Dodds
Producer: Damien Darkness Productions
Booking Link: https://www.iristheatre.com
Booking Until: This show has now ended its run