The Polis

While it may not have been particularly ground-breaking, OLI THICKNESSE enjoys an evening of hard-hitting political theatre.

ADC Alex Peppaiatt Clementine Hollyer oli thicknesse polis political satire poppy damon

ADC Bar, 8pm, Monday 13th May 

The flyer boldly proclaimed, “It doesn’t matter if you win.”

Yes, it damned well does. Brought up on Yes Minister, educated (mostly in elaborate swearing) by The Thick of It, and recently compelled by The Politician’s Husband, the only thing that I know for sure about politics is that it winning matters.

Sure, last night wasn’t the hard-hitting political satire that I thought it would be, but who cares? The audience certainly didn’t, perched around the ADC bar neatly decorated with political posters, young and old.

And I too was greatly amused by this evening which skipped through Westminster, feminism, sexual and racial politics – to be blunt, it was a great success.

The poems of Justina Kehinde Oguneitan punctuated the evening: the first, “Chavs”, was funny and displayed a burgeoning talent for word-play and wit, with “Honest Middle-Class Children” being a particular favourite. Still, the poem seemed a decade too late. The same could not be said for her later piece on female circumcision; moving and abound with violent imagery, this was hard-hitting, yet beautifully delivered.

Henry St-Leger Davey’s “Anonymous” was the fist short play; though a tad clichéd in subject matter and slightly unoriginal, the dialogue sparkled and the premise kept us laughing. The play made good use of the bar, and Clementine Hollyer stood out with her knack for straight-faced, deceptive charm.

“The Jubilee” was fantastic: starting slowly, this was nicely built-up and well controlled by the dead-pan Ellen Robertson. Parts were hilarious, especially the grunting Alex Peppiatt, though the ending to me seemed too abrupt. Overall, however, it was extremely ably performed.

I won’t pretend to understand the depth and meaning of Ed Eustace’s monologue; it flew straight over my companion’s head, in his own words, and admittedly I too had no clue. But the performance was breath-taking, the passion clear to all, and Eustace’s electric delivery completely captivated me.

“Out on a Limb” was the weak point of an otherwise stellar evening. True, it amused me greatly, but it was far more of a sketch of misunderstanding than a political satire, although the T.V. crew were depicted entertainingly. Peppiatt failed to convincingly depict his character, although Rowley-Abel was delightfully off-beat. It was undeniably charming, but seemed to miss the point.

Finally came Poppy Damon’s feminist monologue. Fabulously performed by Tab favourite Octavia Sheepshanks, this was the high point of the evening. Great puns – “Lawrence of alabia” and “Girls just want to have rum” – a-plenty, I was impressed by the writing, and it had the audience in stitches, as Sheepshanks unwittingly undermined her own feminist play. Brilliant stuff – the mention of jelly-wrestling seemed particularly resonant.

So, a top evening; however, it cannot be said that any new ground was broken tonight. Nothing stood out as particularly original or thought-provoking, but it was amusing, witty and an enjoyable way to spend an evening.