Power, Bike Shed Theatre, Tuesday 29th May to Friday 16th June
Power, written by Devon playwright William Stanton, directed by Martin Harvey and produced by Forestage Theatre is a savage farce about what’s happening now, or about what’s already happened, in everyone’s lives.
William says: “Power is about the times we live in, and how we live.
“It’s about the effect of privatisation on all aspects of our lives and even more so about the managerialism that goes hand in hand with the marketisation of what most people regard as essential services and amenities.”
The central character, Gavin Dredge, goes to the offices of Intelligent Wellbeing Solutions to find out why his mother’s vital medication has been stopped and more importantly who took the life changing decision. Not only can’t the managers and staff find his file, they think he’s an anarchist or worse, a fraudster.
“Dredge is all of us,” says William. “He’s every ordinary person who feels they have been pushed and pulled around by unaccountable people running an increasingly complex and impenetrable system.
“Dredge represents that moment that we all hope for, when someone walks in off the street and suddenly everything changes. He’s a catalyst for change, we hope for the better.”
While the subject matter is serious, William is certain that audiences will find Power engaging and entertaining while at the same time prompting them to think about what is being done to health and other state provisions without proper scrutiny.
“It’s not about lecturing politics,” he says. “I’ve created characters that are recognisable but who operate in an extraordinary world.
“Certainly, there’s some very funny dialogue in the play and at one point there is a sequence involving several characters, a bag and three doors which is pure farce.”
A professional cast of four portray seven characters. Solomon Lennox plays Dredge, supported by Patrick Romer as two different managers at Intelligent Wellbeing Solutions, Charlotte Worthing as a sympathetic office manager and a less friendly woman further up the chain of command, and Audrey Schoellhammer as an odd office manager and also the blunt instrument of authority, Inspector Munge.
Both author and director are very pleased that the new play will be performed for the first time at The Bike Shed Theatre. Martin Harvey said: “The Bike Shed is a very intimate venue which lends itself well to plays like this where there is action and drama and yet where audiences will find themselves in moments where they are just listening to two people talking. There is no barrier between the actors and the audience, which makes for a completely engaging experience.”
Power is a companion play to Glory, staged last year at The Bike Shed and which examined the privatisation of the Post Office.
Other plays by William include Foul Tide, about the south Devon fishing village Hallsands which fell into the sea due to the effects of uncontrolled dredging of the beach and which was performed at the Courtyard Theatre in Hoxton, picking up a King’s Cross New Writing Award in 2010. His radio plays include Between Two Worlds, about Sarah Tisdale who leaked a government memo revealing the presence of nuclear weapons at Greenham Common in the 1980s and Three Chickens, adapted from a Brazilian folk story of how one culture absorbs another, and have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4.
William, who as well as being a professional playwright is also a Fellow of the University of Exeter Drama Department, is in no doubt that Power is a timely commentary on contemporary events.
He says: “When off duty policemen take part in marches in our cities, protesting about raids on public service pension funds, it’s time we all started to think.”
Tickets (£10, £7 concessions) are available from 01392 434169 and online at www.bikeshedtheatre.co.uk