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Chloe Phillips’ reviews ‘Absence of War’ at the Cheltenham Everyman

On Thursday 19th March, twenty two students from across Humanities enjoyed a brilliant staging of David Hare’s Absence of War at the Cheltenham Everyman. Chloe Phillips, a third year English Literature and English Language student, shares her thoughts on the production:

Last week’s performance of The Absence of War by David Hare at the Everyman Theater, Cheltenham went beyond all my expectations of this play. Although a great piece of writing, I was slightly concerned that this was going to be a disinteresting play (too political) and a little bit tedious with its focus on a failed politican, George Jones. However, for me, the performance was a memorable success.

Headlong Theatre’s take on the text was powerful and enlightening, making me care about politics and politicans in ways that are not part of my normal day to day life. As an audience, we were offered an intimate look into the trouble and care politicians put into trying to make their visions part of Britain which was really refreshing. Although Hare wrote his play for the 1992 elections, we cannot deny that the issues raised have many similarities with those of the all important 2015 elections, with just as much scrutiny being put on our politicians today. Due to these electric parallels, Absence of War could not have been staged at a better time.

It was not just the star cast that were brilliant but all of the company performed their parts to perfection. Their accents, while distinct, were not overbearing and difficult to understand. The thread of humour that ran throughout gave us moments of relaxation before the stress and frustration of political reality took hold of us, too. Another portrayal of political parties came through with this performance, that of a family. The party members showed their affection and ease with each other whilst also expressing respect and protection towards their leader.

As someone who has no interest in politics of any era, it was going to be difficult to impress me. This play, however, came across as not only intelligent, but also easy for the everyday audience to understand without having an in depth knowledge of the political world. The emotion was understandable and even made me feel sympathetic towards the characters. Overall the experience was highly enjoyable and has left me watching out for other Hare and Headlong Theatre performances.

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