James Bonney MP

22 Jun


By Ian Buckley
AT THE White Bear Theatre, Kennington.
Described in the blurb as a Swashbuckling moderate, James Bonney is a labour politician who doesn’t know his left from his right – he obviously swept into parliament during the Blair era. He is baffled by Malcolm R ose (Ciaran Lonsdale) an ardent supporter of Socialism who is living with his dearly beloved daughter Kate( Ellan West)– a girl who loves her rich and popular Daddy as much as she loves her Socialist boyfriend – and Yoga. It must have been a shock to him in the same way as Jeremy Corbyn was to the Blairites in the labour party.
To complicate things further, James Has a loving and trusting wife Christine (Karen McCaffrey) who even cleans his office for him – I think it’s his office, the scenery is discombobulating as I will explain in a minute. But he is also having a torrid affair with Jennifer, his secretary, played by Louise Tyler. He gets an email which accuses him of the misdoing. and James is worried that if a scandal gets in the Red Tops he will not get his expected seat in the cabinet. The bearer of the bad news is his Agent George Jenner who is of course in love with Christine. So there are complications within complications.
The reason for my discombobulation is that Buckley has decided to write this play in very short scenes – as if it was a television script. In that way, it is very confusing mainly because Oscar Selfridge the set designer has invented a highly complicated arrangement of doors and screens which the actors operate themselves, so the only convincing performances they can give is that of scene shifters. as we are too distracted by them moving stuff around to concentrate on the dialogue. I’m sorry but this was a totally daft idea and the director, Georgia Leanne Harris, should have had the sense to prevent it happening
In Act two, the scenes are longer and there is lots of fun – a dramatic scene between Kate and Malcolm, and a madcap venture from Christine in revenge for her desertion . Yes, there are laughs in Act Two and it’s worth coming back after the interval. Like so many comedies, there is a lot of setting up to do in Act one. So please can we lose the scenery and allow us to watch the play and enjoy the dialogue and the performances.
If it was just Act two I would give it four stars. I think it has the makings of a very funny play.

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