In or Out

A prescient play from Caroline Loncq about the European Referendum sees Tory rising star Annie and Labour hack Jim put their party differences aside in a private but passionate debate of the issues, both political and increasingly personal. The play runs until the 23rd June. A neat fact as it all but breaks the fourth wall as references to Saddiq Khan’s successful election, the Panama Papers and the pressing decision due on the day of the final performance combine to engage with great immediacy.

The dynamic sparks of the play stem from the canny and fascinating behind-closed-doors realism, not the romantic past of the two characters.

In or Out attempts to function on two main levels. There is the genuine exchange of opinion on all matters Brexit (or Bremain, as Jim quips) around which their personal history is introduced, shifting the debate from getting off the fence, to getting off with each other. The former is deft, the later shoehorned.

Placing two bins centre stage, each EU issue is screwed into a metaphorical paper ball and thrown into the ‘in’ or the ‘out’ bin as they talk them through. The refreshingly frank cross-party analysis, aided by a bottle of Talisker provides what the public crave (what politicians really think and feel) even if they are only working it out as the go along. Jibes at Corbyn, ‘Dave’ and the state of the current politic scene make for humorous and surprising remarks on both sides as they say things they wouldn’t outside of their friendship.

Gradually, Jim’s affection for Annie becomes the subject of the play. In or Out morphs into a question of inter-personal, not patriotic commitment. Can they make it together despite the obstacles? Well, it doesn’t matter a great deal as this only functions as a means to sew up the 40-minute production. The dynamic sparks of the play stem from the canny and fascinating behind-closed-doors realism, not the romantic past of the two characters. The pocket-sized lunchtime slot doesn’t allow space for such a progression. The fact the tone is largely comedic further hinders this latter shift of emphasis.

It’s a compact piece with a strong ability to connect with the here and now, on issues which have come to feel blasé in the mouths of point-scoring politicians. Loncq is able to show how most politicians do care and perhaps why they feel constrained by party allegiance; a keen satire, more on the nature of current referendum politics than anything EU-specific.

Reviews by George Meixner

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The Blurb

A sharp, witty satire on sex, sovereignty and shilly-shallying, In or Out is set in an office deep in the House of Commons, where Annie and Jim, MPs on opposite sides of the House, peer into the future while haunted by their shared past.