The final play in the state of the nation trilogy created by David Hare which also included Racing Demon and Murmuring Judges finishes its tour this week; purposely coinciding with the general election.

The play was a result of David Hare gaining access all areas to be able to examine the political system at the end of the 20thCentury and closing following Arthur Scargill and the Labour party to their defeat in the 1992 election.

There is much in this play that can be traced closely to the failed campaign, for the uninitiated political animal it is a depiction of a leader muted by his party and forced into hiding the characteristics that made him a charismatic, passionate figure head that spoke from the heart. He has over the term faded into a bland soul who spouts the “right things” as to do something spontaneous might just lead to disaster.

Reece Dinsdale turns in an extraordinary performance as George Jones, the opposition leader who is told by being “authentic” he cannot win. His love of Shakespeare and his very Shakespearean fall from grace reflects a somewhat tragic and vulnerable figure. When it matters he realises he no longer has his own words; just those from his office on a piece of crumpled paper.

The excellent design from Mike Britton, alongside lighting by Lucy Carter creates a fluid world, the use of video and projection (Ian William Galloway) on oversized screens feels as crushing as the political world surrounding the trapped Opposition Leader. The overall vision is stunning and the mix of live and recorded media sharp and clever.

This is no doubt a piece that will resonate more deeply with those who have clear memories of the campaign in question, there was much nodding and referencing last night. The writing has a wry humour and given the forthcoming election, Jeremy Herrin, directing, makes explicit the fine line between authenticity and electability; it may be a play set in 1992, the relevance is cannot be ignored. 


*** (3 Stars)

Petra Schofield