BODY POLITIC | London, White Bear Theatre

Ben Kavanagh, the writer behind the internationally acclaimed COFFIN and THE WORM, revels in dark comedy. This new collection of short plays, subtitled “scenes from the past, present, future and beyond”, is his darkest work to date, and often forgoes comedy in order to really sock home the pain and anxiety felt by so many globally within the current political zeitgeist.

The lights come up on a war zone strewn with yellow and black striped warning tape, and a ten-strong cast dressed in white hazmat suits and masks, who deliver an opening poem, “The State of the Nation”, which ends with a loud group chant out to the audience: “…and that, my friends, is the motherfucking – cunting – state of the nation.” This raw and unflinching opening sets the tone for a serious examination of contemporary politics.

But if anything is typical of the scenes, it is twisted, even apolitical, surrealism. In the first half, we witness a hearing with the President of the United States (Max Upton), who has carried out an official order for the Secretary of State (Liane Grant) to eat her own hands. Violence against women is a running theme: Mr Rock (Will Ivison) and Mr Hardplace (Max Upton) discuss DIY as an exhausted and bloodied woman in a bikini (Tara Clark) drags ladders around; and a harrowing interview sees an actress (Nikola McMurtrie) plead with a producer (Sam Stay) for a job.

The cast are first-rate, and the whirlwind through Kavanagh’s dark and distressing visions of the political and cultural landscape leaves us stunned. A political sketch show like no other, and a very interesting new work from this exciting young British writer.

BODY POLITIC runs at the White Bear Theatre 29 Jan – 1 Feb 2020.

The Prickle - About transp