Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Power Of Yes...

David Hare's new play The Power Of Yes is the playwright's attempt to understand the banking crisis and the chain of events that led to the current global financial meltdown.

It features actor Anthony Calf in the role of playwright Hare as the flop-haired dramatist-turned-amateur-sleuth interviews all manner of bankers, journalists, financiers and stockbrokers to get to the bottom of what actually happened and why.

The rest of the 20-strong cast play the real-life banking and financial sector great and good that the real-life Hare interviewed to get material for this play and the cast dutifully repeat the quotes Hare pieces together to explain the whats, the hows and the whys.

Much like The Permanent Way, one of Hare's previous docu-drama verbatim theatre pieces, it presents both fascinating facts and a fascinating story with some salient points made and some serious questions asked about the real value of profits over lives and morals over money.

Sadly you do sometimes get the feeling that Hare is, if not preaching to the converted, at least supporting their views. And if the audience the night I saw the show was any kind of yardstick, you sometimes worry that such a play on at the National Theatre is just pandering to the Guardian-reading lib-lab alliance who still think the arts can make a relevant challenge and even change to the still monied hegemony.

But to assume that misses the point of David Hare. Hare is one of the few established writers whose name ensures that he can write for large institutions like the National Theatre. And when he does he uses the medium of theatre in an effecting way to ask intelligent questions about the institutions we hold dear.

And sadly there aren't many dramatists out there with that reputation and theatrical clout doing that at the moment. So we should value Hare and value what he has to say and, more importantly, value where he says it.

He really is a National treasure...

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