A View From Islington North, Arts Theatre, review: ‘Five clever political satires in one’

Joseph Prowen and Bruce Alexander in How to Get Ahead in Politics. Picture: Robert Workman

Joseph Prowen and Bruce Alexander in How to Get Ahead in Politics. Picture: Robert Workman - Credit: Robert Workman Photographer

Most of north London’s politeratti seemed to have turned out for this satire-fest of five shorts by Mark Ravenhill, Caryl Churchill, Alistair Beaton, David Hare, and Stella Feehily.

The playlets under the collective title references the constituency of Labour’s leader – perhaps a little opportunistic as only one of the plays (Beaton’s The Accidental Leader) is actually about Jeremy.

Set in a room above a pub, Old Labour Hack Jim is choreographer to a dirty dozen of Labour MPs, co-ordinating their resignations from the Shadow Cabinet to force a leadership challenge.

Feisty Impetus activist Nina challenges the Blair inheritance and concedes the chaos of JC’s leadership “but it has hope.”

The coup fails.


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Post interval, the most surreal of the quintet, David Hare’s Ayn Rand Takes a Stand is an imaginary dialogue between Ayn Rand (played with quivering, voracious sexuality by Ann Mitchell) and Gideon (George) Osborne about freedom – markets, speech, movement and love.

Jane Wymark’s Therese joins them and brutally exposes the inconsistencies and hypocrisy of the Tory right.

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Caryl Churchill’s Tickets are Now on Sale is a clever exercise in word play using jargon and euphemism from business, marketing, politics and the financial worlds: corporate bollocks to political effect!

More hypocrisy in Stella Feehily’s very funny How to get Ahead in Politics: a snapshot of how Tories deal with sexist behaviour, patronise minorities and look after their own.

The evening opened with Mark Ravenhill’s disturbing The Mother. An audience primed to laugh grew unsure as a deeply disturbing portrait of daytime television Britain developed.

Dressing-gown clad Sarah Alexander is visited by two uniformed soldiers to give her the ultimate bad news about her son.

She is off her face on anti-depressants and a foul mouthed tirade of abuse prevents them delivering their carefully scripted piece about dying for freedom and his country.

A brilliant performance.

A View from Islington North is at the Arts Theatre.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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