The State We’re In

* * * *
4 stars

Not being a political animal I was not fully aware of Brian Haw nor his unrelenting campaigning. Truth be told I hadn’t really looked at the subject matter, all I saw was Guy Masterson Productions, but isn’t that what the Fringe is all about, taking a punt on something different? I knew for a fact anything that Guy puts his name to is excellent, often deep, even harrowing, but always brilliant.

Tommy Price (Michael Byrne) has been living on a traffic Island in front of Parliament for the past seven years. His wife Sophie (Julie Higginson) visits him from time to time bringing news of his large family and trying to get him to return home. Carmel (Amaka Okafor) is a young reporter who has developed a deep relationship with him through her coverage of his campaigning and many visits to court.  The final perspective is seen through Gayle Saxton (Diana Walker) a young up and coming MP who frequently comes up against Price through her work.

The complex relationships are explored whilst we are told about Tommy’s protest, the reasons behind it and his fight against bureaucracy. The writer Zia Trench is a political journalist and her meetings with Brian Haw through her work inspired her to write ‘The State Were In’. Director Justin Butcher has utilised Zia’s writing to great advantage. The set design very cleverly gives you more in-depth information about Tommy Price just by looking at the posters and banners on display.

As I suspected this is a powerful piece of theatre and if you like me have little knowledge of the main subject you are still in for a brilliant piece of theatre.

Sheila

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