Parliament Square

December is a time where the cold is bitter, and hiding in warm, cosy retreats is much more appealing than braving TfL and going to the theatre. However, we braved it and journeyed to the Bush Theatre to see Parliament Square. A play questioning the politics of democracy and reflecting upon individual attempts to change. In the case of this play, a woman left her family to go to Parliament Square and set herself alight in hope of causing enough shock publicity that change would occur. Interesting concept, since the playwright himself (note the pronoun) chose to write a female character which the vast majority of the post-show discussion instantly labelled as mentally ill. Not the most positive representation of womankind I feel. The post show discussion, led by Maddy Costa opened up an in-depth and interesting discussion that quickly delved into the representation of mental health conditions in the protagonist. A touchy conversation yes, but an important one. I struggle to condense an hour long discussion into a short and concise blog post; avenues of discourse, some of which wandered independently others which met in agreement. My overwhelming feelings always bounced back to the politics of democracy; and I couldn’t help but begin to question if we could call ourselves (in Britain) a democratic society. It’s comforting to know that theatre which makes you think about these kind of macro-topics  is being produced at reputable and forward-thinking theatre’s. Thinking back to the rich and politically-fuelled history of theatre which has been so controversial to dominant political providers the question rises ‘are we coming back full-circle on ourselves?’. Is it time to provoke the change that so many groups of people are so clearly asking for – or has theatre been publicly de-valued to the extent where our voices will not be heard? I certainly hope not, but with arts being continually cut from public access and education, I do believe my feeling is valid. If I were to summarise my opinions on this piece of theatre, it would be that the exploration of democracy was highlighted by the extreme nature of the dramaturgical catalyst, but the nature of this plot point seemed to provoke too many distractive thoughts to the audience. Whether this be intentional or not, the effect it had a striking impact, which I would say was effective. It was a cold and chilling narrative that provoked big thoughts, which I would happily say makes it a pretty successful piece of theatre, although it’s intention for thought could use a little clarity. But Hey-Ho, each to their own and as a play I found it gripping and wholesome. Many thanks again to Maddy for hosting such a provocative discussion. We very much look forward to attending your next!

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