PowerPlay, written and directed by Tom Levitt, ran for 5 nights in August 2018. 4 performances were to full houses and three produced standing ovations!
It’s 2022, shortly after the next general election, and Britain is governed by a coalition of national unity in a period of post-Brexit-transition transition. Two newly elected MPs, of contrasting backgrounds, meet face to face for the first time – in a secure room deep inside a Middle Eastern airport. Unaware of why they’ve been detained, their only link with the outside world is through staff from the British Embassy. In this fable of what can happen when historic alliances are abandoned in favour of new rules for their own sake, the play takes a wry look at politics, democracy and Brexit before reaching a somewhat absurd – if inevitable – conclusion.
How did PowerPlay come about?
I admit: as a committed remainer (no doubt a ‘remoaner’ too) I’m frustrated with politics right now. So it was with a sense of catharsis, earlier this year, that I got it all off my chest and onto my word processor. That passion metamorphosed into ‘PowerPlay’, an hour-long wry comedy set in post-Brexit isolation.
I showed the script to the professional producer who’d produced my 2010 play ‘Making Allowances’, which I wrote about the MPs’ expenses affair, and he loved it. ‘The Camden Fringe!’ he announced, and that was it, booked. I recruited the cast and booked a second venue, in Norwich.
The drama’s set in 2022, in a featureless room in the bowels of a Middle Eastern airport. Two newly elected MPs, a Labour Brexiteer and a Tory remainer, are on a fraternal mission to the Sultanate’s newly created ‘People’s Assembly’ when they are unaccountably detained. Their only contact with the outside world is Julia, acting counsellor at the British Embassy (who’d expected to be the Ambassador, but that’s another story).
One thing leads to another and the MPs’ personal issues are overtaken by developments in global politics over the hours that follow: they involve changes to the visa regime, a debate as to whether chess is a sport or a pastime and a misunderstanding about the Queen. And then comes the denouement… but that would be telling.
In this fictitious future Britain has a Government of National Brexit Unity – which doesn’t look too far fetched, given the balanced outcome of recent local election results. It’s a period of post-transition transition, which also bears an ominous ring of truth, in which apparently consistent, pragmatic and practical decisions have led to unforeseen consequences. Meanwhile, some traditions never change.
The arguments pro- and anti-Brexit are both given air – there’s no monopoly of views on this stage – but the underlying and growing chaos I describe reveals my concerns about where we’re going.
As I write I’ve got my venues, my cast, four enthusiastic and talented professionals (including an old friend with whom I acted at school!), and a rehearsal schedule. I’m ordering a Director’s chair and a loud hailer. And a line from an old Joni Mitchell song is echoing around my head: ‘You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone…’
Photos: The team meet up and rehearsals get under way!