Whipping It Up – October 2007


By: Steve Thompson

Directed by: Terry Johnson

Venue: Theatre Royal, Brighton

Date: Thursday 11th October 2007

This was a bit disappointing. After the show, Steve described it as stilted, while I preferred lacklustre. The actors did their best, and perhaps the length of time they’ve been doing it was beginning to show, or perhaps the lack of a full house affected them. Any which way, this wasn’t the best piece of political writing I’ve seen, not by a long chalk.

The set was a rather drab office space – the office of the deputy chief whip. I did like the mugshots on the back wall, with the word “backbenchers” struck out and “peasants” substituted. Otherwise it was rather odd for a stage set, as the large armchair centre front tended to block the view of the action most of the time. The lighting was also strange. Not because it varied as much as it did, but that it was so flat. I almost felt I was watching a TV show being shot.

For those of us brought up on political satire and comedy since TW3, some of the jokes were very green – recycled several times. There was also a lot of explanation of the whip’s purpose and power, which I can understand being necessary for the new folk, but for the rest of us made it seem very clunky. The second half was better, once that was all out of the way, and there was a lot more humour to be had. I noticed how much easier it is to laugh at crudities like “shit” and “tosser” when they’re said on stage. This strength of language has been long outdated on TV, yet the experience is different when I’m not sitting in private in front of the telly.

Despite all this, we did manage to enjoy ourselves a bit, and the lines were delivered very well by a cast who deserve better than this.

© 2007 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me

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