This is an engaging exploration of the friendship of two of the most iconic British Prime Ministers of all time. Written by the great-grandson of one of them, we are treated to snippets of their meetings, rivalries, disagreements, and their now eternal co-existence in Parliamentary lore.
An engaging exploration of the friendship of two of the most iconic British Prime Ministers of all time
Peter Swales plays a somewhat younger Winston than the iconic WWII leader we are more used to in dramatisations, in a characterisation generously suggesting for the first real time why the current incumbent of Number 10 Downing Street sees himself as Churchillian. Arrogant, impetuous, childish, privileged, only really enjoying painting because it doesn’t argue back… one can trace the ascent of a somewhat nobler figure, and there are glimpses of his famous wordsmithery, but essentially, he’s a bit of a plonker, not to mention a walloping liability.
Less bombastically charismatic, but easier to approve of is Lloyd George (Geraint Rhys): a softly-spoken Welshman who prefers the idea of teaching a nation to read over Churchill’s dogged desperation to persuade the nation to take up arms. Okay, so he installs his mistress as his ‘secretary’, encourages her to have two abortions, bounces Ireland around like a rubber ball… but there are lots of good bits too. Essentially, this guy may be lacking in the bloviation department, but is a man of the people with an acute eye for what is needed to thrive as well as survive.
What we have then, is two sides of the British political coin: one sober and thoughtful, the other flamboyant and habitually pissed as an arsehole, played out against the backdrop of Frances Stevenson’s adulation for her lover ‘LG’. As Stevenson, Alexandra Donnachie chronicles LG’s most memorable moments as minister and then PM: the First World War, Russian Revolution, Irish Question, the Paris Peace Conference, wage and health reforms are all covered and give us an insight into why Stevenson’s slavish devotion allowed her to live so much of her life in the shadows.
The three actors multi-role a little to bring us an eclectic cast of supporting characters well known to those familiar with twentieth century history, and switch between locations of major events with slickness and certainty. Directed by Nick Hennegan, this is a valuable little show which brings new perspectives to well-trodden events.