Dictatorship can exist in many settings but in a quiet, seemingly respectable, English upper-middle class cul-de-sac? Unlikely would be the answer. However, where there is expected conformity and for those unwilling to conform, any resulting intimidation can have the emergence of a dictator as a possible outcome.
These are the themes which are explored in this comedy drama. Tom has newly arrived in the cul-de-sac with his wife and teenage daughter. Over the garden fence he exchanges humorous pleasantries and shared prejudices with his neighbour, Nigel, a long standing resident. Casually Nigel mentions the charismatic Tony, another cul-de-sac resident. At this early stage, Tom takes the view that Tony is something of an interfering busybody.
Scenes between Tom and Nigel alternate with scenes between Nigel and the enigmatic family doctor. As the play develops, the mood becomes more uneasy. This is enhanced by the gentle pacing of the dialogue. It becomes apparent that Tony, whom we never meet, exercises total control of the cul-de-sacs residents through the sheer force of his personality. Those who play to his rules are favoured, those who cross him suffer.
In the end it is more psychology drama than comedy and what is frightening in a general sense is how a dictator can surround himself with willing accomplices.
Reviewed by Ben (no cast list supplied and thus I can’t put actor’s names to characters)
Pleasance Courtyard – Beneath: 33
3 to 29 August 2011 (not 15, 22)
15.15 – 16.15
Fringe Programme Page Number: 252