Review: Coalition – 503 ***

Coalition was the brainchild of Nadia Latif; an idea to try out a version of coalition between artists following the election of our new government. Five writers, an illustrator, a comedy group, a choreographer and the list goes on. After four months, the collaboration of eighty-four people and no doubt many a frantic call, Coalition was born at the 503 in the form of five mini productions.

Based on‘ coalition’ the subject matter varied. Some adhered closely to the theme, like We Are Where We Are – which highlights the problems of drastically changing a benefits system. Others, like Shotgun Civil Partnership in the Rose Garden, took a more metaphorical approach but the message – if intended to have one – lacked clarity, though this did not detract from the enjoyment.

Bedrooms, Dens, and Other Forms of Magic was probably the most poignant of the night – focusing on the relationship between two students – one boy, one girl – and their opinions of the higher powers – their school and teachers. As a wave of protests is washing over this country, led by the next generation, it highlighted issues we are facing every day under this government.

The concept worked, the talent on and off stage was superb, each piece had strong direction and the setting allowed each piece to flow cohesively

With anything like this, some you enjoy over others.  In this case the show-opener We Are Where We Are, a fantastically well written piece by Dominic Cavendish and Clever Peter, was sadly let down by the overall performance, allowing the final play, Bedrooms, Dens, and Other Forms of Magic, to steal the show, with fantastic performances from Georgia King and Harry Melling, and some kitsch animation. Thanks to the semantically skilful Ben Ockrent, it too was well written.

Latif is clearly a lady with powerful ideas – but she is also someone who follows through from beginning to end. The concept worked, the talent on and off stage was superb, each piece had strong direction and the setting, simple and plain, allowed each piece to flow cohesively, without a complicated set change. The message varied but the night was an entertaining one and that’s what we want in these bleak times.

(Coalition is presented in repertory, with two groups alternating evenings.  Hannah Berry attended a Yellow Group evening)

***(3 stars)
Runs until  5th December
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