Welcome to Thebes by Moira Buffini
National Theatre, SE1
Imagine a state split by factions and conflicts supposedly now at peace and a democracy. Unable to pay the salaries and pensions of its military. A woman hoisted up into the presidency with other women in positions of authority. The male head of a neighbouring, seemingly more powerful state, coming to scatter his largesse and increase a sphere of influence. All very promising on paper. It’s a shame what emerges is a mess of a play despite valiant attempts by great actors http://tinyurl.com/wttcast to give their roles some substance. TLT was disappointed since she thoroughly enjoyed Moira Buffini’s Dying For It at the Almeida. A shorter play and fewer characters could have held a small space compellingly. The young boy soldier, the loan fraud conniving widow of a murdered politician and the flashy “prince”. The young woman sent in to prepare the way for the “first citizen” (leader) of the neighbouring country. But this makes the play sound much more interesting than it was. Stretching it across this large space , with superficial references to a jumble of Greek myths, meant a lot of embryo ideas were scattergunned and shouted across the stage. Plus on-the-nose dialogue - either self-consciously “poetic” or vernacular “gagged up" and a self-conscious exhange of gender roles. Ah well, a stage-managed political rally scene had the characters as audience dutifully clapping the politicians but TLT should be honest and say many of the real punters liked it. Lots of clapping and cheering at the end so TLT gives it just about an amber light for the efforts of the actors, director and designer.