Review: Utopia, Soho Theatre

“We know that there’s another way…we just not sure where it is”

What is Utopia? Defining the hopes and dreams of a perfect world has occupied writers for hundreds of years and in this co-production between Newcastle’s Live Theatre and the Soho Theatre, contemporary writers have also been asked to explore their own takes on the concept, blueprints for future happiness, which have been woven altogether by Steve Marmion and Max Roberts in this ambitious, if unwieldy production.

In a strange grey room, six pierrots work their way through the different blueprints, working through the various scenarios to see if any of them actually do lead to the promised land. Some are funny and satirical as in the warlord discovering the power of Facebook or the old-school stand-up whose jokes fall flat in a world of perfect harmony. And some are more serious, as the authors probe the idea of utopian ideals arising out of  less-than-perfect situations, acts of self-sacrifice and tender kindness coming out of the blue. Continue reading “Review: Utopia, Soho Theatre”

Review: A Walk On Part, Soho Theatre

“It’s fashionable to believe that all politicians are useless”

On paper, the theatricalisation of a set of political diaries from a former Labour backbencher featuring a veritable multitude of characters from the corridors of power ought not to have worked. But the 13 years covered by A Walk On Part document the journey of New Labour from fresh-faced idealists to brow-beaten petty squabblers and our chronicler, Chris Mullin, is an insightful, frank and often brutally honest narrator who offers an illuminating view from the insider perspective of life as a working politician.

A fiercely independent mind, Mullin served as the MP for Sunderland South and skirted around the edges of power in a number of junior ministerial positions, even occupying the post of Africa minister at one point, despite being a vocal objector to the war in Iraq. But being so frequently ‘off-message’ with the powers-that-be meant his journey in Westminster was one of ups and downs. We get a taste of life too as a constituency MP in an area of the country decimated by the decline of the manufacturing industry and haunted by the endless queues of asylum-seeker cases as well as snapshots of his personal life and the impact of his career on his family. Continue reading “Review: A Walk On Part, Soho Theatre”