Pros: The moments when the audience is engaged directly, bringing opinions that have been building unconsciously through the performance to the foreground.
Cons: The American accent failed to be a constant throughout, which turned out to be quite distracting.
The play starts with Allen Dulles (David Middleton) and James J. Angleton (Marco Aponte) recalling the events of Operation Macbeth – the plot woven from within the American political elite to assassinate President Kennedy in 1963. The two men speaking are the CIA director and chief of counterintelligence. Kennedy, or Bambi as they like to refer to him, is acting out of character trying to be the president. These men expect absolute submission from the public-elected officials: after all, they haven’t been talking about fascism being the way forward for nothing. As they recall the plan, videos start playing on the projector, visually backing up their words; how American citizens were psychologically prepared to expect a catastrophe, due to the unorthodox behaviour of the president during public events, the symbolism of an umbrella as metaphor for the Cuba crisis, the video featuring the murder…
This dynamic of recollections and interactions between the men behind Operation Macbeth and presidents of the White House presents audience with a different way to look at the events that have shaken American politics since the 60s; Nixon (William Simpson) openly talks about being set-up in Watergate, Clinton (Manos Koutsis) parades his love of coke and women. It all culminates with the group plotting the biggest American catastrophe of its history.
We are talking about men from within the system, nonchalantly conspiring to maintain absolute control. The voice of discord comes from Jackson as Clarence, always challenging their plans and placing faith in the American public to see what is really going on behind the closed doors of the governmental cabinets.
Both plot and staging are fantastic and gripping. The highly detailed descriptions of events follow the line of American presidents, along with the insight into their actions; Nixon’s guilt and Clinton’s cockiness. Bush is presented as an all-American idiot (which was very gratifying to watch if I’m completely honest). This is all backed up with videos to translate our experience in the theatre to the reality of the outside world. The wide space is transformed into the white house, the offices, New York.
I particularly liked Clive Alexander in his role as George Bush senior, very commanding and complicated, and Middleton and Aponte were great to watch too, contrasting some performances which were not as convincing as they could have been – the men are presented as heartless, with an overwhelming need for power and they sometimes failed to show what they were talking themselves to be. But considering the amount of information being delivered, along with lines I thought they did a good job overall.
I left the theatre chilled to the bone: the ending definitely had the wow factor. I missed being able to get a drink and relax for a bit at the theatre venue, calming my insides in a bar or couch. But all in all, this is a powerful show to watch. Not to miss if you like your Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy with an American twist.
Author: James Hepburn
Director: George Eugeniu
Producer: Theatro Technis
Booking until: 02/02/2014
Box Office: 020 7387 6617
Booking Link: theatrotechnis.com