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REVIEW: Ten Times Table at The Everyman Theatre

REVIEW: Ten Times Table at The Everyman Theatre

It’s Monday evening and the drab dining room of the local hotel is as cold and tired as its current occupants for the hour, all gathered to discuss preparations for the local village event. A third of the congregants want to go into granular detail about the agenda’s typos, another the proposition and election of chairman and minute taker, and yet others are nursing their glass of whisky and waiting to reconvene in the hotel bar. One, or two, just want to get their shopping home and put the kettle on. We’ve all been there.

There is no doubt that that this is the stuff Barbour welly and tweed coat wearing fly on wall comedies are made of. Vicar of Dibley nails it. The Archers nails it. And Alan Ayckbourn, with his Archers-cum-Vicar-of-Dibley-cum-Fawlty-Towers Ten Times Tables, very almost does.

A group of local worthy do-ers are congregating in a series of mid-winter meetings to plan their summer Folk festival, reenacting a local massacre of the “Pendon Twelve”, 200 years ago. Of course everyone has their different view on how the pagent should play out, and what it represents. Throw into the equation personal problems, relationships, clashes in personalities and politics, not to mention an unhealthy about of time wasting procedures, it feels so life-like it's a wonder any of us can bear to watch.

Set in 1977, there is a lot to admire about this play. Calling out our death by committee culture, pointing a finger at the ability of the human race to spend quite so much time posturing and complaining, arguing over officious paperwork in small nondescript rooms all around the country while aiming to achieve community cohesion, was a big leap in recognition of of our social foibles.

Fast forward to 2020 and this social realism isn’t new. What keeps this play gripping is its parody of local politics reflecting greater rifts across the country, ‘finding identify, fast disappearing in modern life’.’ In a time of discontent, ‘bellyaching and complaining’, extreme ideologies mean seemingly minor differences in opinion lead to rapid escalations. Politics is embedded in everything; from the crumbling hotel around them and the clothes on the committee members backs, to the shopping bags under the table and the stacked chairs and lone piano in the corner.

Grab your boiled sweets, your sharpened pencil, and your yellow lined paper, and enjoy a microcosm of Brexit as it unfolds in The Swan Hotel’s four walls. ‘I will have no politics!’, cries the exasperated Chairman. Fat chance. Not there, not here. Not then, not now. Not ever.

Review by Rubalie


Explore Gloucestershire
25 February 2020

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