Unsung
  • By Tom King
  • |
  • 8th Aug 2018
  • |
  • ★★★★

With the advent of the internet, smartphones and social media, today’s politics happens under an unprecedented level of scrutiny. Our leaders live their lives out in the open, permanently exposed, public figures made more public than ever. While its never been possible to please all the people all the time, now everyone with a bone to pick can tell you to your face.

An amoral political chameleon with a darting lizard tongue to match

All of which begs the question, what kind of person would be willing to undergo this constant exposure and criticism just to seize and hold power?

These are questions that Valentijn Dhaenens, the one-man, one-vote behind Unsung attempts to answer with his fractured collage of the modern politician. His unnamed leader of an unnamed party in an unknown country could be any one of many men of power and, indeed, shows flashes of several. The Blairite wheeler-dealer, the Cameronian shirt-sleeved ‘bloody decent bloke’, the gloating Trumpian frat-boy and the sleazy bestial Weiner/Weinstein crossbreed. Prowling the stage, an amoral political chameleon with a darting lizard tongue to match, Dhaenens captures each aspect vividly before transitioning back to his ground state - a blank canvas of a man who’ll be anyone he has to be in order to win.

Balancing out the political operator are glimpses into the man behind the mask in the form of his FaceTime conversations with loved ones. In this respect, a unintended technical hitch gave the show its most potent metaphor: a man struggling, just out of the spotlight, to right his public image. However, the candid videos do offer an effective and elegant way to show how a decent person can lose sight of morality in their quest for validation and approval.

Unsung offers very few new insights into the self-obsessed psyche of the modern politician. However, by taking these key characteristics, placing them side-by-side and thrusting them in our faces, it shows us in sharp contrast just to what kind of damaged human being we have handed the reins of power. We see very little of the sympathetic human side but, given their better natures are not the problem, perhaps a focus on the dark side is exactly the wake-up call we need.

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Since you’re here…

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You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
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Performances

Location

The Blurb

The makers of BigMouth return with a thrilling, relevant new show. Delving deeply into the politician’s life and exposing those juicy backstage scenes we all look for, Valentijn Dhaenens’ performance unravels the DNA of the politician (including attendant nastiness) creating a personage that mesmerises and repulses. While the world’s asleep, follow this political animal as he pulls into yet another hotel, peels off yet another white shirt, peps himself up for yet another speech. Today, we give you the all-time politician: the power junkie, rogue, strategist, but also the husband, father, and in the end, the very lonely human.

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