Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Review: 'Feed the Beast' By Steve Thompson

Hi everyone,

I had the pleasure of seeing the production of 'Feed the Beast' twice at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, UK. This production is a thing of beauty, you just need to go in with a little bit of an insight as this will help to bring the production to life.


Gerald Kyd - Michael

Kacey Ainsworth - Sally/ Leader of the House of Commons
Amy Marston - Heather/ Curator of Chequers
Shaun Mason - Scott/ Robert
Paul Moriarty - Chairman Denis/ General Hume
Aimee Powell - Ellie
Badria Timimi - Andrea/ Priscilla
Tristram Wymark - Clive/ Anthony

Michael Goodlad is my ideal Prime Minister, as he wants to get the UK back on its feet and he wants to do this by improving the NHS; as he wants more doctors and nurses. Michael also wants to build more schools and hospitals, as well as making free childcare and cancer prescriptions more accessible. As well as getting people out of poverty.

But, because Michael is the new Prime Minister, he's got a slight problem - The Press. Michael doesn't want to give the press anything personal about either himself, his family or his staff. But, he will give them any information regarding his policies. Michael's ideal of ignoring the press soon changes; as his daughter, Ellie makes the headlines. To get Ellie off the press radar he enlists the help of Scott, who is the Press Officer at Downing Street. Together Scott and Michael formulate a plan, but to do this Scott needs a juicy story, so then he can silence the press about Ellie.

Some weeks later Michael is rehearsing for Prime Minister's Questions and because its his first ever time he has several members of his staff with him, as he needs to get a feeling of what its going to be like; as Scott is trying to 'toughen up' Michael. But, during the rehearsals Denis arrives, as both Scott and Michael want to see him, and this is because someone has leaked the names of celebrities who might be on the Honours List, and Michael wanted the names of the people who might be on the honours list to be as classified as possible, due to it being a delicate area, as he doesn't wanted it to be leaked early. Because of this both Michael and Scott make Denis feel like a liability. Also, Michael has told Scott to "Keep some stories handy", as he doesn't want a repeat of what happened to Ellie. Around lunchtime a defence meeting takes place about the conflict in the Middle East and Michael wants to withdraw the troops from the Middle East, as the only reason the UK defence agencies are over there is to make the Americans look good. During the senior staff meeting it is revealed that General Hume has set out a departure strategy to bring the troops back to the UK from the Middle East. Also, during the meeting we find out that an ex-minister has only gone and published a book, and its being serialised over the next four weeks in 'The Observer'.

During the annual party at Downing Street, Michael is casually chatting away to the Curator from Chequers; and Michael isn't happy living there, as it isn't ideal for either him or his family. Also, during the party an argument takes place between Michael and Sally regarding Scott, and Michael defends Scott; because Scott is only doing what he's being asked of him, which is to protect Michael and his family. Sally can't work with Scott, as she thinks he is damaging Michael's reputation; even though Scott has done a lot of positive things for the Prime Minister, and his family.

Some time later, Michael agrees to give an interview to the press, but with Scott present. But, Michael only wants to give information about policies, not gossip about either himself, his family or his staff, regardless of the fact that is what the general public want to read about.

A few months later, Michael sadly doesn't get re-elected as Prime Minister. But he leaves Downing Street alongside his family with his head held high.

Act One of 'Feed the Beast' is extremely fast paced, and it doesn't seem like 45 minutes, as it went really quickly for me.

    I really enjoyed watching the second scene, as this is when Michael is still settling into Downing Street. The bedrooms are small, but then the dining room "You could land a plane in". Even the thought of having Margaret Thatcher sitting on the same loo has him freaks him out a bit.
  Another scene I enjoyed watching was when Michael told Sally of his plan to ignore the press. Michael doesn't mind the idea of the press having a bit of fun, but he doesn't want them setting the agenda for Downing Street. As Michael wants to run the country, but he doesn't want to be the gossip headline.

Act Two of 'Feed the Beast' isn't as fast as the first act, but it opens up with a cracker; as Michael is being hurled insults by members of staff and this is because they are giving him a feel for his first ever Prime Minister's Questions. This actually put a smile on my face, because you don't expect the Prime Minister to be insulted from anyone, especially members of his own staff.

  Another one of my favourite scenes is when Michael is discussing living in Chequers with the Curator, because Michael doesn't find the home of Chequers to be all that accommodating and family friendly.

The Doctor Who inspired scene changes are also worth noting, as I've never seen anything like this in a theatre production before. With projections of social media and fast paced music to add to the effect.

'Feed the Beast' is a fast, energetic political drama, with some brilliant one liners. The cast bring to life this production of political madness by having bundles of energy and the ability to work as a team.

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