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A post-nuclear play for our times

Review by Corinna Lotz

Set in a futuristic Australia Duncan Ley’s play is a distopian view of what might happen after terrorists wipe out a major city. It is eerily relevant to politics in Britain since 9/11 and 7/7.

Warren Hammond, (Andrew William Robb) is a New Labour-like politician who justifies the introduction of a police state. He is busy organising a “unity” march to boost the nation’s morale while his ex-wife Laura (Robyn Moore) denounces the destruction of civil liberties and democratic rights. Muslim youths and critics of the state are demonised and suddenly disappear after a sudden knock at the door. Even Hammond, with direct access to ruling circles, cannot discover what has happened to Laura.

Ides of March by Duncan LeyThe lives of the seven characters interlock in a gripping choreography, as the plot switches from one exchange to the next. The innocent bed-time chats between Oliver O’Brien (Noel Le Bon) and his daughter Joni (Jodie Kumblé) are haunted by absences and alcohol. Family relationships between the Hammonds, Ahmed and his son Hameem (Fanos Xenofos and Matthew Wade) fracture as the state moves to destroy dissent.

The themes, the arguments, staging and chilling finale are compelling in a larger-than-life performance in the tiny White Bear Theatre. Weighing in at over two hours, the play could do with a bit of tightening up.  But it is a no-holds-barred exposure of the secret state and its spooks, not only in Oz but anywhere. Its political relevance and excellent performances make The Ides of March a gripping evening, enhanced by the unsettling didjeridoo sounds recorded by Giueseppe Nieddu and direction by Adam Spreadbury-Maher.

This world premiere runs at the White Bear Theatre Club, 138 Kennington Park Road London SE11 4DJ [2 mins walk from Kennington Tube] until 21 December. Tuesday-Saturday 7.30pm. Sunday at 5pm. Box Office: 020 7793 9193

Award winning director Duncan Ley [Canberra Theatre Award for best original work].

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