Theatre Company’s production of Michael Frayn’s Democracy is a far cry from
their rendition of the Bay City Rollers musical,
in our current political climate of backstabbing, cheating and inner circle tactics, it’s not difficult to see why Democracy is a play that has current relevance.
Democracy tells the true story of German chancellor Wily Brandt, played with a real sense of conviction and belief by Tom Hodgkins, and the events which follow his election in 1969. His party begins to turn on him and events turn nasty. There is internal mutiny within the party but it doesn’t happen overnight. The real events took place over a number of years, and at times, this two hour and fifty-minute play also felt like it was running on into years. The plot is undoubtedly dramatic and quite the thrill at times but the lengthy running time was a hindrance to the drama.
A great deal of gratitude is owed to the cast. The ten-strong all male ensemble gave performances which kept the performance alive, even at the most dialogue heavy and factually bursting of times. Neil Caple as Günther Guillaume pulls an extraordinary performance as well as Michael Moreland taking on the role of Arno Kretschmann, who in particular is a total breath of fresh air and adds yet another level of intrigue to the suited-and-booted political jigsaw unfolding onstage.
Richard Evans’ set design is simple, yet works well within the construct of the play; there’s no extravagant backdrops to distract the audience’s focus away from the detailed plot. A real asset to the production was Tim Reid’s video design; providing a ‘names to faces’ facility as well as tracking the events with real historical footage.
In many ways, Rapture Theatre’s adaptation of Michael Frayn’s Democracy is a contradiction of itself. With an all male cast performing dramatised events from over forty years ago, one could easily argue that the play is outdated and backward. Yet, in our current political climate of backstabbing, cheating and inner circle tactics, it’s not difficult to see why Democracy is a play that has current relevance.