Hampstead Theatre, Eton Avenue, Swiss Cottage, London, NW3 3EU
Whilst political theatre can be riveting, Tim Luscombe’s ambitious new play on the origins of the European Union and its impact on individual lives may seem a potentially interesting story, but is besieged by dramatic flaws which make it painful to endure.
The play’s title stems from the name of the French foreign mister’s 1950 proposal for a Coal and Steel Community. This should give some indication of what is to follow – and what does will largely be of interest to A level students, political aficionados or members of the UK Independence Party.
Luscombe’s central character is Bill Bretherton (Elizabeth Hurran) – a Suffolk fisherman’s son who makes the journey from strong-minded federalist to cynical bureaucrat. The four other cast members play 17 parts and, on the whole, should be congratulated under Anthony Clark’s tepid direction for changing costumes and sex so quickly.
Clearly Luscombe is on the side of the fishermen. His play offers a poignant account of how local livelihoods are blighted by European rules and factory-fishing vessels. Despite this it is impossible to engage adequately with the characters and the story, which moves across European countries and time-zones from 1935, to 2006. The political characters who don’t appear –Jean Monnet, the senior civil servant who created the play which Robert Schuman gave his name – carry more dramatic influence than those who do.
Nonetheless the play provides a gentle reminder that policy decisions taken elsewhere have an enormous impact on innocent individuals. The evening is though sadly one of hard work and best avoided unless you want to mentally exert yourself in your leisure time.
Director: Anthony Clark
Writer: Tim Luscombe
Opened: 6th February 2006
Closing: 25th February 2006