Having decided on the spur of a moment to try to see a good play at the National Theatre we queued successfully for two standby tickets (50% discount in price) to see almost the final showing of 13 in the Olivier.
The play opens in the arrivals hall of Heathrow today. An engaging lady from the USA with her obnoxious sounding daughter are standing near to a young hippy traveller. Obnoxious daughter says hippy "smells"; mother tells her not to be so rude and aplogises to hippy who says nothing. VIP American father then arrives.
Later scene is at 10 Downing street where compassionate lady Tory PM - maybe a Mrs Thatcher mark II - is worried about events in Syria and Iran especially the risk of nuclear weapons from the latter. Compassionate PM is advised by atheist Guardian reader political adviser who had been at College with her as was her spin doctor.
Cut to South London Park where airport hippy called John (seemed to me to be have similarities with both John the Baptist and John the Evangelist) gathering huge interest from passers by on his soap box oratories about god, war and politics and there is a non sequitor funny touch when someone cycles through the stage park on his Boris Bike.
Meanwhile national student protests about fees increases taking place with heavy handed police abounding. 70 year old (white) pensioner arrested perhaps for hurling Sainsbury's shopping trolley through bank windows.
Some terrific dance scenes with wonderful singing garage-type music lights and thunder claps. Money grabbing lawyer who pays pretty young (afro-carribean girl) for sharing a bed. She turns out to be pensioner's niece She cons her aunt for a second tranche of cash following the pensioner's alzheimers causing her to forget first tranche. Hippy falsely arrested on suspicion of smashing the bank's windows.
Switch to 10 Downing Street where interesting debate raging about whether the USA which has deliberately been publicly cold towards UK was in fact cosying up to UK to join in war against Iran. USA special emissary is obnoxious daughter's dad. Hippy John gets money grabbing lawyer to defend him but gets off before lawyer earns fee. Violence increases; joke about Nat West bank makes us in the audience gasp at possible libel case; hippy becomes vox populi and is invited to no10 where he too is found to have been in College with PM. National protests begin to abate
Very good debate between compassionate Tory PM, her trendy lefty adviser and Hippy St John when American dad who is trying to bring the UK into the war has to leave early for domestic problems involving sub plot about wife and obnoxious daughter. Yes Minister civil service types wash their hands of any responsibility for anything.
Meanwhile the 70 year old pensioner sings a solo whilst playing the piano on which ostentatiously placed is a crucifix. Trendy lefty eschews any belief about god or anything but wants pm to go for war despite inevitable 100,000s casualties on the basis that failure to fight now would lead to Iranian nuclear bombs killing millions in the near future. Hippy St John's arguments against seem to me to be far more cogent and Mrs T mark II
Compassionate PM decides...
A really memorising and entertaining drama which left one feeling both exhausted and invigorated by the end. The Olivier's special effects facilitated by their revolving stage were brilliant.
Well done the players and the National.