I wanted to be able to write a glowing review, I really did. But I'd be telling an untruth if I said this was a production which I enjoyed. It wasn't that it bored me - it didn't. It was too fast paced for that. No, it irritated me because it played up to too many stereo-types and was just a bit too predictable.
The lead character is Sam, a twenty something gay lad from Manchester. He works in the office of the Shadow Schools Minister (coincidentally called Michael) alongside his slightly older chief of staff, Nick. Sam has given the come on to a Labour researcher but when it comes down to it, he can't go through with it. We are throughout led to believe that he suffers from the same inhibitions which Ted Heath suffered from.
Indeed, Ted Heath is the running theme of this play. We're given none too subtle hints that the former PM was gay -very close to his mother, you know. Cue the next stereo-type. Heath's former wannabe girlfriend meets him on Hampstead Heath "do you come here often," she asks him. "Once or twice," Heath responds, implying that it was his normal cruising ground. I think the producer has been reading too many of Brian Coleman's New Statesman columns.
Meanwhile, Sam takes a class in a local school and teaches the teenage kids about the political system. There are some tender and funny moments in these scenes, none more so than when the macho black kid of the class asks Sam if he is gay. Please don't make the kid come out I thought to myself as if having a premonition of a predictable outcome. I'll leave you to wonder if he did or not.
The play did wrestle with the problem of attitudes to homosexuality in the Tory Party. It wasn't an anti-Tory play at all. Indeed, it was very fair in its portrayal. But it lacked something. Sex. That may be an odd thing to say but bearing in mind the subject of the play, it was curious that the entire cast had the sex appeal of Dale Winton dressed in lycra. The Labour researcher who was trying to seduce Sam was, well, the most unconvincing predator I have ever seen. I doubt whether he had the audience's collective gaydar twitching very much - or anything else for that matter.
It has to be said that most of the people I spoke to at the after show party afterwards did not share my view of the play. With a couple of exceptions, they all found it moving and thought provoking. As usual I represent the vocal minority!