Razor-sharp agit prop satire
This article is from 2011.
If you live in the UK, you’d never know it, but agit prop is alive, well, and indeed thriving in the world of theatre. An impressive exemplar exists in the shape of this sharp-as-a-tack satire, which incorporates clowning, physical theatre and quick-witted dialogue.
Spent is a co-production by various Toronto companies that couldn’t be more timely. It focuses on two businessmen rendered suicidal by the 2008 financial crisis, but uses this pair (Ravi Jain and Adam Paolozza) as a starting point for a sprawling rogues gallery of the financial collapse. From the self-serving and sociopathic CEO of Lehman Brothers, whose indifference to the suffering he has created is produced seemingly verbatim, to a foreclosed home-owner and on through a series of media anchormen engaged in a carrion feast of spectacular coverage of the crisis, the anger of the piece is infused with glittering humour by the grotesque characters.
The two performers display boundless energy and inventiveness in their constant shape shifting, and even manage a kind of tender warmth in the finale. If just one or two pieces of mime are more about themselves than the subject matter, it’s a minor flaw in a thoroughly enjoyable piece of political theatre.
Pleasance Dome, 556 6550, until 29 Aug (not 17, 23), 2,55pm, £9–£9.50 (£7.50–£8.50).