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Democracy by Michael Frayn, presented by Next Stage Theatre Company, directed by John Matthews at The Mission Theatre, Tuesday 28th November – Saturday 2nd December at 7.30pm plus matinee on Saturday 2nd December at 2pm. Tickets Next Stage box office 01225 428600 or Bath box office 01225 463362.

I’m not sure quite what the usual run of plays is but if you’ve ever longed for something completely different then Democracy is probably it.

Contemporary politics isn’t a common subject in theatre and, although this is set ostensibly in 1970’s West Germany, much of the action here could apply to current situations.

There’s an East German spy in Chancellor Willy Brandt’s West German coalition government and, amazingly true, he becomes very close to Brandt. Thus we follow the action, viewed cleverly from both sides, of the internal politics involved in maintaining power with a slender majority and how spies worked.

Based largely on the truth, spy Gunter Guillaume (played by believable charming Jon Yardley) even gets to holiday with Brandt ( excellent Peter Benson) while passing back information to his puppet master, Arno Kretschman.

 

When the Chancellor’s party get a bigger majority one worried member remarks, “Victory means you have to do something.” Ain’t that the truth, and the problem.

A perfect black, white and grey set, plus good lighting, simply done and cleverly constructed, this might not be for everyone but for anyone with an interest in Machiavellian politics it’s a rare treat.

 

Philip Horton