6-10 September 2016
Reviewed by Deborah Mackenzie
This political play based on true life events shows the backstabbing, bickering and human side to those in cabinet.
The opening scenes of Democracy is election day on the 21st October 1969, where Willy Brandt, played by Tom Hodgkins, surprisingly becomes the Chancellor of West Germany, the first Social Democrat in 40 years. Michael Frayn (writer of Democracy) cleverly narrates the story through Gunther Guillaume, employed as a mere underdog in the cabinet, who is continually putting himself forward and wins the trust of Brandt, finally becoming his right hand man. Gunther is also a spy in the camp and is leaking secrets back to the Soviet-controlled East Germany via a Stasi spymaster.
The twists and turns of political intrigue, espionage and betrayal during the final years of Brandt in office. How Brandt relies on, trusts and confides in Guillaume, shows the fascinating relationship between them. On the other hand, the other members of the cabinet are scheming and plotting against Brandt. This all come across as very human, with their strengths and weaknesses showing.
The set never changed throughout the performance and for me there could have been some changes, especially when they were on the train. One scene in particular where they were having a picnic in Norway, there was no back drop to give it authentication of where they were.
It involved a lot of ‘talking’ to follow; at times this got a bit heavy and boring even though there was some wit included. It seemed to lack the high emotional outbursts that you would expect at finding out there was a spy in camp.
Once past the negatives of the scenery and all the monotone talking, it is a fascinating historical event that was cleverly written for stage.
Tickets cost from £14.90 to £32.40 (plus £2.85 transaction fee).
Democracy is at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow until 10 September 2016. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 871 7647.
Theatre Royal, 282 Hope Street, Glasgow, G2 3QA | 0844 871 7647