GUERRILLA theatre, the Traverse called it; and it was certainly part of a time-honoured tradition of instant theatre written to capture current events, dating back to the left-wing „living newspapers” of the 1930s. Written on Monday, put together on

Tuesday, rehearsed on Wednesday, and given two election-day performances at the Traverse on Thursday, Gordon Brown: A Life In Theatre brought together a top team of Scottish writers – led by playwright David Greig, with Peter Arnott, Gabriel Quigley, Vicki Liddelle, Alan Wilkins, and Rona Munro – to create a tragi-comic polling-day meditation on the life and times of Gordon Brown, the man at the centre of the general election drama; and the results were comic, tragic, hilarious, and oddly electrifying.

More like a sustained 70-minute political cabaret than a fully-formed play, it was staged in the big auditorium of Traverse One, with three lecterns arranged in the style of the famous TV debates. The show offered a faint chronological thread through the Brown biography, beginning with his childhood in Kirkcaldy, and making much of his early romance with Princess Marguerite of Romania, seen as a casualty of his obsession with politics.

The text also kept returning – as in a recurring nightmare – to last week’s fateful encounter with Gillian Duffy of Rochdale, with the words the Prime Minister spoke to her, and then about her, endlessly recycled, as if they somehow summed up his life. Beyond that, there was a hilarious imaginary encounter between Brown and two Northern Ireland politicians, in which they tried to explain the deep cultural reasons why a Scotsman like Brown can never win a modern UK election. There was a sizzling truth-behind-the-smile version of a speech Brown made during his 1997 „charm offensive” in the City of London. There was an unbearably moving re-run of his telephone exchange with Jacqui Janes, the recipient of his blotted and mis-spelled letter of condolence on her son’s death in Afghanistan.

And there was a final imagined dialogue between him and Mrs Duffy in which he came clean about the reasons why his historic compromise with capitalism was absolutely, agonisingly necessary. Steven McNicoll was astonishing as Brown and Gabriel Quigley and Callum Cuthbertson were superb in a range of roles, including Tony Blair.

And the final effect was at least as heartbreaking as it was funny; as we watched the ideal of social democracy in Britain flicker and fade.

Read the article on Scotsman

Theatre Review: Gordon Brown: A Life In Theatre

GUERRILLA theatre, the Traverse called it; and it was certainly part of a time-honoured tradition of instant theatre written to capture current events, dating back to the left-wing „living newspapers” of the 1930s. Written on Monday, put together on

Tuesday, rehearsed on Wednesday, and given two election-day performances at the Traverse on Thursday, Gordon Brown: A Life In Theatre brought together a top team of Scottish writers – led by playwright David Greig, with Peter Arnott, Gabriel Quigley, Vicki Liddelle, Alan Wilkins, and Rona Munro – to create a tragi-comic polling-day meditation on the life and times of Gordon Brown, the man at the centre of the general election drama; and the results were comic, tragic, hilarious, and oddly electrifying.

More like a sustained 70-minute political cabaret than a fully-formed play, it was staged in the big auditorium of Traverse One, with three lecterns arranged in the style of the famous TV debates. The show offered a faint chronological thread through the Brown biography, beginning with his childhood in Kirkcaldy, and making much of his early romance with Princess Marguerite of Romania, seen as a casualty of his obsession with politics.

The text also kept returning – as in a recurring nightmare – to last week’s fateful encounter with Gillian Duffy of Rochdale, with the words the Prime Minister spoke to her, and then about her, endlessly recycled, as if they somehow summed up his life. Beyond that, there was a hilarious imaginary encounter between Brown and two Northern Ireland politicians, in which they tried to explain the deep cultural reasons why a Scotsman like Brown can never win a modern UK election. There was a sizzling truth-behind-the-smile version of a speech Brown made during his 1997 „charm offensive” in the City of London. There was an unbearably moving re-run of his telephone exchange with Jacqui Janes, the recipient of his blotted and mis-spelled letter of condolence on her son’s death in Afghanistan.

And there was a final imagined dialogue between him and Mrs Duffy in which he came clean about the reasons why his historic compromise with capitalism was absolutely, agonisingly necessary. Steven McNicoll was astonishing as Brown and Gabriel Quigley and Callum Cuthbertson were superb in a range of roles, including Tony Blair.

And the final effect was at least as heartbreaking as it was funny; as we watched the ideal of social democracy in Britain flicker and fade.

Read the article on Scotsman

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