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An Honourable Man review at White Bear Theatre, London – ‘confusing play set in post-Brexit Britain’

Scene from An Honourable Man at White Bear Theatre, London. Photo: Credits: Lisa Bowerman and Claude Baskind
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Bring on James Graham’s Brexit play, because it seems few other people are up to the task. Certainly not former Tory parliamentary candidate and Kennington local Michael McManus, who’s attempt to write a post-Brexit cautionary tale falls flat.

The plot makes absolutely zero sense. In the near future, a gay, centrist Northern MP, Joe Newman, resigns the Labour whip but wins on his own as an independent, and suddenly finds himself at the head of a movement, joined by disgruntled MPs from both sides of the house. So far, so plausible.

But then this nascent centrist party, led by a liberal gay man, suddenly decides a fervently nationalist line on immigration is the way to Number 10. It’s like the Lib Dems suddenly announcing they are actual fascists. Baffling.

It would still be palatable as a thought experiment, maybe, if it was more dramatically satisfying but there’s no real dialogue in An Honourable Man, just speech after weighty speech. No real drama, just posturing, grandstanding and spiel.

A hard-working cast do their best with some genuinely wince-worthy material. Timothy Harker brings a friendly, Centrist Dad vibe to Newman. Max Keeble is convincingly seduced by power as his Northern Irish aide. And Jolley Gosnold’s direction takes a laudable stave at incorporating multi-media, with a liberal sprinkling of news reports and live-feed interviews.

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Confusing and awkwardly written political play about post-Brexit Britain