Political satire comes to Hemlsey
Just when you thought real-life British politics couldn’t be more tragi-comic, along comes the 1812 Theatre Company at Helmsley Arts Centre with David Tristram’s sparkling political satire “Going Green” — writes John Lister, director.
Regular 1812 audience members will recall a hilarious production of Tristram’s surreal husband-and-wife comedy “The Amazing Revelations of Orca the Goldfish”. Born in the West Midlands in 1957, he’s a playwright whose sympathetic characters, simple stage requirements and brilliant one-liners make him particularly popular with amateur theatre groups — and it’s a remarkable fact that at least two Tristram plays are being performed somewhere in the world every night of the year.
“Going Green”, first published in 2013, is billed as a “tragic comedy”. It’s set in a near future — or a parallel present — at a moment when voters have lost faith in the political establishment. Expenses scandals, cash for questions, fat-cat bankers, austerity, riots, the dreaded B-word and a constitutional crisis: the whole country is crying out for a new direction and a fresh start. Sounds familiar?
Step forward John Brown, a politician of vision and charisma who is a favourite to become leader of the Green Party. But he’s also a man with a terrible problem.
Afflicted by a mystery illness, John gives a passionate farewell speech at the Green Party’s annual conference. The crowd rises as one to acclaim his final, stark message: “Go green … or die.” Little could he know just how profound those words would turn out to be when Madeleine, a “medical professional” whose real line of work is one of the play’s funniest surprises, offers a possible lifeline to save him.
And here’s where life imitates art — because Madeleine is played by Sophie Brown, who in real life is the Green Party nominee to fight the Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland constituency at the forthcoming general election. Indeed had a mid-October election still been on the cards, Sophie would have had to make a mad dash from the dress rehearsal to her count!
The 1812 Theatre Company is fielding a stellar local cast for this production. John Brown is played by 1812 stalwart Joe Gregory; Ivan Limon makes a welcome return to the 1812 to play the Green Party Chairman who thinks he’s the power behind the throne — while his wife Christine (played by Michèle Hopley) thinks otherwise. Martin Vander Weyer offers a cameo as a mysterious senior civil servant and Helmsley’s pantomime favourite Amy Hughes completes the cast as Brown’s airhead girlfriend, Laura.
Tickets are £10 (£5 for under 16s) and are available at Helmsley Arts Centre’s box office (01439 771700) or www.helmsleyarts.co.uk.