Neil Labute's Pick One opens this evening of rehearsed readings with a play that's as bold as it is simple. Using the conceit of a private "blue sky thinking" meeting it has its three characters talk themselves into believing that genocide is a sensible approach to solving and preventing austerity measures. Exposing some of the simplistic argument structures of conservative reasoning the play is even more sobering because of its dry humour and the fact that these characters seem so much like the kind people that really sit in the important chairs in our governments and multinationals.
Although it remained the strongest of the pieces the rest do not fail in bringing some relevant points about the disconcerting attraction right wing argument seems to have in times of austerity into view. This is made clear most plainly in Clara Brennan's The Wing. A conflicted father-daughter relationship is used to examine the rising popularity of the English Defence League in recent years. The piece turns into a bit of a rambly activist rant ultimately illustrating the helplessness of the two sides in making their convictions understood to each other. The other pieces fall between the two extremes of witty satire and heavy-handed outrage.
Capitalism In Crisis by Tim Price is a story of how money can corrupt even those with the most idealistic mind set. The simply structured piece centres around two characters that get involved in the Occupy movement. Although it's lacking some of the necessary punch there definitely is some measure in the thoughtful pace and deliberate symmetry. Structurally less successful is Kieran Hurley's piece Amanda about a stressed MP taking a bath and the three narrator voices in her head talking about her struggles and failings.
True or False by Davey Anderson is by far the most ambitious of the short plays. A story about what appears to be an undercover agent infiltrating rebellious youth and instigating violence against authorities, the piece has some surprising twists and turns which make it a bit sprawling. It's full of originality, which is more than can be said of the rather disappointing Project NIGHT by Tanika Gupta.
Church Forced To Put Up Gates After Font Is Used As A Wash Basin By Migrants by Mark Thomas about a newspaper proprietor does not only have the best title of the lot but handles its material with panache and some great one-liners. It's always entertaining to put one over on a newspaper that spews hateful stories against the negative impact of immigrants on British tax payers and that itself has more than questionable tax arrangements.
Melissa Dean's direction is sometimes slightly unfocussed especially when the text itself is a bit messy like with True or False but considering the whole evening is designed as a rehearsed reading the whole company manages to develop the structures between the characters very well. And bravo to sound engineer John Clark for sneaking in some Lou Reed at the appropriate moment. An evening which successfully gives short shrift to too complacent leftist sentiments and aims to highlight the absurdity and dangers of conservative political lingo.