Once upon a time, British politicians within the Cabinet took their lead directly from the Prime Minister. However in this day and age, politcians often take their cue from focus groups and media-savvy advisors – ‘the power behind the throne’ – perfectly illustrated by Peter Capaldi’s Malcom Tucker in The Thick Of It. It is in this world where Broken Silence Theatre’s Tremors is tangential to.
Seen by the Labour Party as one of their up-and-coming bright stars, Tom Crowe (William Vasey) has charisma and sound, forward-looking policies. Attending the party conference in Maidstone, he checks out of his hotel in the middle of the night and heads to to the home of Lisa (Vicky Winning), the party ‘spin doctor’. Following his ‘cross-examination’, he’s advised to lay low in his home of Maidstone. But apart from Marie, (Cerys Knighton) his ex-girlfriend, there also awaits her brother Chris (Tim Cook) who he also left behind in the lurch years ago and whose own methods for ‘helping the community’ have also landed him in hot water…
In terms of topicality, Tremors is very ‘now’, what with Tom having to decide between bowing out as an MP with modicum of dignity or sticking to his guns and fighting to stay in the political arena. Then there is the ‘national anger’ expressed by Chris that services and regions away from the metropolitan areas are largely forgotten by Westminster. That, and the empty buildngs around that aren’t being used for housing…
As two sides of the same coin, Tom and Chris have parallel lives – both guilty of some things but not of others, both doing what they ‘know how’. In an indirect way, the play poses the question: are politicians really ‘the voice of the people’, the agents of change – or do they just react to duress from without or within?
As serious as these issues are, there is an inherent black humour in Tom’s predicament as Lisa channels her inner Malcom Tucker and tries to assert damage control, before Tom can trigger an incident of ‘omnishambles’ proportions.
Broken Silence Theatre are one of the most prolific TCs in terms of the sheer volume of plays produced during the year, and all of them written in-house by Artistic Director Tim Cook or Resident Director Paul Macauley. That and the fact they are all original, entertaining and of a consistent high standard is all the more remarkable and to be applauded.
© Michael Davis 2017
Tremors ran at the King’s Head Theatre on 25th-26th June. It will also run there on 2nd-3rd July (7.00pm).