The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee Takes Oral Evidence on Whitehall’s Relationship with Kids Company (Donmar Warehouse)

Posted: July 22, 2017 in Theatre

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What is the point of dramatising real life events? Well, it could be to educate, explain, expand, dig beneath the surface or throw light on the characters involved. However, the most notable feature of this production, an edited verbatim account of a single session held by a House of Commons Committee, is that it does none of these things. Instead, it sets the proceeding to music. So what could be the point of doing this? Well, it could be to mock or satirise, but it does neither of these things either. Apart from the singing, this is a straightforward rendering of what the full-length title states, telling nothing more than could be seen on the BBC Parliament channel or read in Hansard. Surely the show’s creators could not be aiming to demonstrate that something serves no purpose by emulating it. No, let’s dismiss that thought.

Edited and adapted by Hadley Fraser and Josie Rourke and directed by Adam Penford, the show re-enacts the Committee session at which oral evidence was heard from charity chief Camila Batmanghelidjh and trustee Alan Yentob. Dressed in familiar flamboyant robes and matching turban, Batmanghelidjh is played by Sandra Marvin, who looks and sounds like Dianne Abbott. Yentob is played by Omar Ebrahim, who comes across a bit like a singing John Major. The Committee is chaired by Bernard Jenkins MP, played by Alexander Hanson, who both looks and sounds a lot like John Major, and it includes Kate Hoey MP, played by Rosemary Ashe, who looks and sounds very much like Kate Hoey MP.

The hearing focuses on one of the critical dilemmas of our times – how we balance the needs to support an increasingly disadvantaged underclass and to control costs – but this dramatisation adds nothing to the discussion.  The music, in classical opera style, composed by Tom Deering, makes very easy listening and there is not much to dislike during 80 minutes that pass quite quickly. However, that still leaves unanswered the central question – what is the point?

Performance date: 19 July 2017

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