When we haven't got our noses in several books, we try and get
to the theatre as much as time and budget allows. We were recently
at the Press Night of David Hare's new Play The Power of
Yes at the National Theatre.
This was surely a play that theatre land was waiting for.
Following Lucy Prebble huge success at the Royal Court in London
with Enron, London's theatre goers were collectively holding their
breath to see what veteran playwright David Hare would do with the
financial crisi. Yet somehow Hare failed and succeeded in equal
measures. On the one hand he managed beautifully to explain the
intricacies of the financial disaster in a simple technique of Hare
creating himself as a character asking the questions we all needed
answered. Where this was a disappointment was the staging. Yes it
was simple - 20 actors walking on and off an all but bare stage to
explain to the playwright what had happened. What I wanted to know
was why I had paid the best part of £30 to hear something which
could have been delivered just as well on radio. Indeed at many
points in the play David Hare used a clichéd technique employed by
lazy radio script writers in the form of simply introducing a
speaker (and yes I do mean speaker) as "George Soros (or whoever)
That said, it was an entertaining evening. As Michael Billington
highlighted in his review, David Hare introduced some lovely
touches such as pointing out that those much photographed boxes
Lehman Brothers (ex) employees were carrying out of the building
contained nothing more significant than sandwiches and Milky Bars
which their canteen credit cards still owed them. They were too
upmarket to call it looting. Special mention though to Bob Crowley
and the design team who invented some innovative effects to
highlight the intracte problems of finance.
Does one expect more from theatre? No new playwright would have
had this work staged yet if nothing else it does explain the
financial crisis particularly well.
At the first night audience I spied ex-CBI chief Howard Davies
sharing his thoughts with a small huddle. If one wanted to extend
the journalism theme, perhaps a second half would have given him
the right to reply.