Politicians score in Studio

PUBLISHED: 06:00 26 March 2015

Alessia Procaccini

Alessia Procaccini

Archant

The language of politics is frequently incomprehensible to those who live and work outside the corridors of power.

Yet it is the nitty gritty of politics which is at the core of David Edgar’s play If Only, currently being performed by the Company of Ten in the Abbey Theatre Studio.

A fortuitous time to stage a play about the Coalition with an election looming, it will probably not do much to improve people’s views about politicians and their advisers.

But as a piece of entertainment it is fascinating, filled as it is with speculation, conjecture and mind games.

The three main characters, Conservative Peter Greatorex, Lib Dem Jo Lambert and Labour Sam Hunt, already have a connection before they come together at Malaga Airport in 2010 from which they are unable to fly out because of the Icelandic ash cloud.

From then until their eventual success in getting a ferry home, their political stances and roles in their party are at the forefront of everything - even when the car they have hired breaks down.

The second half of the play picks up on the trio in a small church near Mons in Belgium where the other two have been summoned by Peter Greatorex two thirds into the current Coalition term.

Tim Hoyle as Peter is everything many people believe Tory MPs to be - sometimes pompous but always a political animal. He is the perfect foil to Sassy Clyde’s transparent Jo and David Houston’s ideological Sam.

Whether or not it was the intention of David Edgar is unknown but - at the risk of being accused of political or gender bias - Lib Dem Jo comes over as far and away the most likeable.

All three are remarkably good in their roles in a play which requires a lot of them - from quick-fire arguments to cutting across one another.

Yet it is the arrival of idealistic student Hannah, a brilliant performance from Alessia Procaccini, which steals the show.

Her transformation from a gobby teen to a signed up member of the Conservative Party is so well observed and acted that it is easy to understand why Peter Greatorex is concerned about the future of his party.

Director Yvonne Harding keeps a tight rein on the play, allowing its sparkiness and humour to come to the fore yet not stinting on political debate. It is a triumph.

If Only can be seen from tonight until Saturday and tickets can be obtained from the box office on 01`727 857861 or online at www.abbeytheatre.org.uk

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