Writer: Steve Thompson
Director: Stephen Oswald
Reviewer: Stephen Bates
In an age when advertisers seem to believe that an old man sitting alone on the Moon is the best image to persuade us to spend our hard-earned cash in a certain department store, no account of the world of spin would seem likely to stretch credibility too far. This revival of Steve Thompson’s 2003 play is, probably more than was intended, a reminder of how things were a dozen or so years ago.
Thompson has risen to prominence scripting hit television shows (Doctor Who, Sherlock, etc), but this play draws from his early experiences as an intern with an advertising agency. It is a world of men sporting designer stubble and women squeezed into figure-hugging business suits. The audience here is made to feel as if observing a series of business meetings, so basic is the staging with no more than very plain tables and chairs.
Rachel (Abbiegale Duncan) is the new recruit from whose perspective we observe an agency that includes among the products that it is selling skin cream, butter, a theatre company and the Conservative party. Jane (Anneli Page) is the hard-nosed boss, Peta (Abi McLoughlin) is her unswervingly loyal PA, Miles (Gregory A Smith) is a gay account manager and Piers (Ash Merat) is a womanising media consultant. Yes, there are a few stereotypes among the characters.
The collective ethos is “no ties, no affiliations, no loyalties…” to which could be added no morals and no principles. Thompson presents us with a superficial bunch of cynics and never really tries to delve under their skin to discover what, apart from avarice, makes them tick. The dialogue, some of it in rhyming verse, is sharp and delivered slickly by the eight-strong company in Stephen Oswald’s fluid production.
Today all of these characters would be glued to their smart phones, but the absence of such accessories is not the only feature to date the play. What may once have seemed like insight now comes across as hindsight, particularly when Thompson takes the play off at a tangent to give us his angle on political spin.
Telling us that no politician since Margaret Thatcher has been driven by conviction and that spin is the new political ideology, Thompson’s arguments seem a little naive, but perhaps his points were less obvious in 2003 than they are more than a decade further on. He is right of course and he could have added that many believe that even Thatcher’s first election victory owed more to Saatchi &Saatchi than to the lady herself. Long gone are the days when Spincycle could only have been a play about a washing machine.
Runs until 19 November 2015 | Image: Contributed