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A New Play for the General Election

Charlie Hollway and Jumaane Brown in A New Play for the General Election at Finborough Theatre, London. Photo by Belkin Photography Charlie Hollway and Jumaane Brown in A New Play for the General Election at Finborough Theatre, London. Photo by Belkin Photography
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This short play by actor and director Chris New has a punning title and a ferocious plot. It was devised by his company of four actors and is billed as a response to the imminent general election. Alas, from the beginning, the plot strains credibility.

In an abandoned warehouse in London, Danny has trussed up an abducted man, who at first says that his name is Tom, but soon turns out to be George Osborne. As Danny tortures his victim, perhaps a common fantasy among those opposed to the regime of austerity, he is joined by two other people.

One is Maggie, a disturbed young woman who believes Danny is Jesus. The other is her friend Richard. Maggie wants to sprout wings and join the angels, while Richard just wants to go home. How will Danny manage this increasingly febrile situation?

Although it starts promisingly, the play is light on concrete political ideas, and works better as a snapshot of disturbed minds than as a response to the election. Likewise, neither story nor characters have much to offer, and the devising process has yielded what could best be described as a rather self-indulgent student exercise.

New’s production has a sinister soundtrack, and some powerful moments, but his play’s short running time means that the cast don’t have much chance to develop their characters, so Jumaane Brown’s threatening Danny, Charlie Hollway’s reasonable George, Emily Houghton’s frantic Maggie and Tim Pritchett’s stolid Richard really have nowhere to go.

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Response to the general election is rather short on political ideas, character and story