Writer: Nick Walker and Cast
Director: Nick Pitt
Reviewer: Glen Pearce
Venue: New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich
Theatre is a live beast, at its best when it reflects current events.Theatre’s ability to rapidly respond and to engage its audience in topical dialogue has always been at its heart.
Turning the everyday news events into compelling drama though is challenging. When the news is politically led it is even harder to make a piece of thought-provoking, yet entertaining theatre. Perhaps the news is to fresh, perhaps we are already bombarded with soundbites and counter opinions, but sometimes it takes the sober light of a retrospective view to make political drama work.
Perhaps that’s why, on the whole, we’ve yet to see much on-stage coverage of the European Union Referendum. There’s no shortage of potential stories, from both sides of the campaign, but at the moment, perhaps audiences are weary of the prolonged, and often bitter, campaign.
That hasn’t stoped The Core at Corby Cube and Sheriff attempting something brave in The Should We Stay Or Should We Go Show, a series of editions written a couple of days before performance with the script only finalised the morning of the show. It’s a technique often used in topical news revue sketches but rarely in drama.
In this edition, sub titled ‘Other Speaker to be Confirmed’ the company explore the newly formed Another Europe is Possible campaign and the premise about who their mystery speaker at their Sheffield rally could be. In their vision the speaker is an expat journalist from Sweden, returning to the UK with her husband to take up temporary residence in Sheffield to allow them a vote on June 23.
It’s an interesting premise – comparing the percieved idyllic life in Sweden, ranked consistently high in the best places to live survey against a possible non-European life. Sadly the company throws in several sub plots that muddy the water. We hear a bit from Another Europe is Possible leader Yanis Varoufakis and a bizarre scene set in the customs detention area of Stanstead airport regarding the investigative powers of the Bar Council.
Maybe in a further developed script these could become interesting threads, but in this form, they seem muddled and confused ideas. That confused theme permeates the piece, perhaps intentionally to mirror what, for many, is an unclear campaign. We never really get to know what message we are supposed to take away from the piece and,although running at just over an hour, the languid pace and heavy tone make it difficult and tiring viewing.
One has to applaud the cast (Helena Johnson, Nick Walker, Rochi Rampal and Graeme Rose) for taking on the challenge of performing a show with so little preparation, but while the concept sounds exciting on paper, in execution, it comes across as strangely sterile.
Reviewed on 3 June 2016 | Image: Contributed