Spy Plays, Above The Stag Theatre - ★★★★ - Until March 29, 2020


Photographer: PBG Studios.

The two plays, London/Budapest and Kompromat, are set at very different times in European and gay history. The former is set in the Cold War, with a backstory in World War II, and deals with the death of man-about-town, and possible spy, Adam de Hegedus. The latter is about the murder of GCHQ employee, Gareth Williams, in 2010. Both works are drawn from real life cases and are short, dark, almost Orwellian looks into the world of espionage. These are taut little thrillers with well-drawn characters. Max Rinehart is suitably menacing as Reg/Zac and does a fine job of distinguishing two characters who might have blended into each other. Guy Warren-Thomas captures the spirit of erudite and urbane Adam and is equally believable as the näive, introverted Tom. While Adam is the stronger individual, believing he has some agency in his world, both he and Tom are vulnerable and marginalised figures because of their backgrounds and sexuality. They both appear to be prey to their apparently powerful assailants in the personal and political games afoot. However, the victimiser is ultimately a victim as well, acting only at the behest of enigmatic, amoral forces such as British espionage or Russian oligarchs. In David Thame's dark world there is only a hierarchy of control; no one is really the master of their own fate. It is that realisation which makes the plays so chilling, and rather frighteningly relevant to the present day. This is a thoroughly enjoyable and compelling night of intrigue!

Reviewed by J.C.

 Our Score:  ☆☆☆☆ 

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WHEN, WHERE, GETTING THERE:
Until March 29, 2020
Tue - Sat: 7:45 pm, Sun: 6:15 pm
Above The Stag Theatre
Nearest tube: Vauxhall
https://abovethestag.org.uk/whatson/spy-plays/

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