Ginger Hibiscus | Ginger Hibiscus | REVIEW: The Candidate at Theatre Delicatessen
Ginger Hibiscus | REVIEW: The Candidate at Theatre Delicatessen
Ginger Hibiscus | REVIEW: The Candidate at Theatre Delicatessen
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07 May REVIEW: The Candidate at Theatre Delicatessen

Just in case you don’t use social media, watch TV, read a newspaper, walk down the road with your eyes open or open your post, then it’s time for a news flash. After months of political posturing, debating and leafletting, election time has arrived, and if the polls are to be believed, it’s promising to yield one of the most unpredictable results for decades. But with swathes of the electorate declaring they’ll be voting for whoever they consider to be the “best of a bad lot,” what would the ideal candidate look like? And would your ideal candidate look anything like mine?

That’s exactly the question posed by the Lab Collective’s The Candidate, an exciting piece of immersive theatre that invites you in behind closed doors, to join an interactive focus group crafting your own prospective candidate, as if moulding him out of some rather temperamental clay. A unique experience embracing the very notions of democracy and cooperation, strangers are asked to cast their votes to manipulate every facet of his presentation, priorities and policy.

It’s exhilarating to experience a production daring enough to trust participants with decisions that are difficult to predict – with genuine choices, not leading no-brainers – that fundamentally alter the course of the session, making each session, and each candidate truly unique. It’s helped along by some brilliant improvisation from a pair of talented actors, their professionalism tested as the group are invited to question their candidate, the duo doing a fantastic job of remaining both in character and unfazed in what felt, to me, like quite a hostile room comprised of people quick to demonise Omar based on his “politician” title. But this remarkable degree of engagement stimulates impassioned and lively debate, sometimes shrouded in rhetoric, making it the perfect experience for anyone who’s ever wanted to ask a question on Question Time, or ever revelled in watching a politician trying (and failing) to engage with the electorate.

The biggest potential problem that The Candidate faces is that it catches just the finale of election canvassing and shows through – and following – the announcement of results. As voter fatigue sets in and people begin thinking about the May 2015 election in the past rather than present tense it could lose the relevance that’s positioned it so perfectly during the first part of the run. But with the possibility of a re-election later in the year being actively discussed, perhaps it could be back sooner than expected!

With a diverse populous with conflicting priorities, ideologies and degrees of engagement, The Candidate reinforces that even a politician created to be an image of perfection by the electorate, almost by definition, cannot be all things to all people. Whilst hitting on fundamental truths like this, it refuses to preach on party politics, and certainly isn’t a “go to” to explain the differences between the current electoral candidates. But in sidestepping the soap box, it’s an experience that might just make you think differently about what you want from your politicians, and what matters most to you when it comes to politics’ big “c”: compromise.

Dates: 29th April – 16th May 2015
Venue: Theatre Delicatessen
For information and tickets:

Star Rating

Ginger Hibiscus don’t like using stars as a headline; we think they’re too reductionist, and that decision-making based on stars misses the point of a review. Just as you wouldn’t judge a personality using a five-point scale, theatre is multi-dimensional. So have a read, and then look at the stars afterwards.
Okay, fine, but how many stars do you give it? Click here