Ballot Box

Ballot Box from Tea and Tonic productions may be categorised under ‘New Writing,’ but it fails to provide an original scope on Brexit. This comedy satire follows the impact of the EU referendum on two out-of- work actresses, Molly and Lydia (played by Keri Bastiman and Emily Parker-Barratt, who also wrote the play). Despite their contrasting backgrounds, these two housemates are like sisters to each other. However, as voting day draws near, their differences start to create alarming cracks in their friendship.

The EU referendum so fresh in the public memory, theatre on the subject requires something inventive and innovative.

Molly and Lydia represent two sides of the debate splitting the country, and they sadly don’t stretch far beyond that. Presented so unsubtly as personified arguments, it’s hard to feel much for them as they perch on their living room sofa regurgitating all the Brexit lines heard day after day in the media. Though their conversations are lively and animated, Molly and Lydia are so contrasting that it’s hard to believe they could have been friends in the first place. This isn't helped by the opening scenes which, aside from a shared singalong to The One Show theme tune, do little to establish chemistry and closeness between the girls. Without this, the break up of their friendship doesn’t mean a lot and the play falls apart.

Ballot Box doesn’t feel like satire. The closest it gets are the ‘Trump will never win’ jokes, which become tired very quickly. Politics isn't being sent up or ridiculed here; Molly and Lydia are simply swept up in the fray, just like the rest of us.

The show is not completely without humour or charm. The girls’ flirty attempts to get the landlord off their backs are amusing and the sense of devastation when tragedy strikes is also impressive given how two-dimensional the characters feel most of the time. However, with the EU referendum so fresh in the public memory, theatre on the subject requires something inventive and innovative. This is where Ballot Box sadly falls short.

Reviews by Carla van der Sluijs

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The Blurb

Ballot Box is a short, satirical comedy that follows the final weeks of the 2016 EU Referendum televised campaign. Set in a London studio flat, two unemployed actresses watch the political pantomime unfold on the box. Originating from opposing backgrounds, the women hold different values, resulting in a hilariously tumultuous relationship. However, on the morning of the referendum result, one of the characters receives tragic news, altering the girls’ lives forever. Ballot Box raises questions about values, friendship, loyalty and overcoming differences. The relationship between the women is a reflection of a split nation facing change and confusion.