As the mouthful of a name suggests, the show takes the evidence given at a government inquiry over the headlining-grabbing closure of the Kids Company charity and turns it into a musical. Yes, that's right, verbatim song and dance show inspired by a select committee. Hadley Fraser and Josie Rourke created the book and lyrics almost directly from the transcript of evidence given at the inquiry. All that is added is Tom Deering's music.
It's experimental territory for musical theatre, but, as Rufus Norris proved with London Road, you can turn verbatim transcripts of a contentious real life event into a hit musical.
'The objective of this session is not to conduct a show trial. We want to learn some lessons,' promises the committee – a line that is repeated, chorus-like, through the 90-minute show. It takes us back to 15 October 2015, to a green, grey and beige room in Portculis House, where actors impersonate a panel of real life politicians. Camila Batmanghelidjh and Alan Yentob, brought to life with eerie accuracy by Sandra Marvin and Oscar Ebrahim, are giving evidence to The Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee. The inquiry came after Kids Company, a high profile charity, collapsed in August 2015.
We hear, via questions and cross-examination about the financial, political and social factors that contributed to the collapse of Kids Company in August 2015. In the nitty gritty depths and information overload, the musical format works well to pick out foreground certain detail: £73,000 spent on one client in a year, vulnerable children and young people catastrophically abandoned by the government, £150 on a pair of trainers. And songs lend an operatic drama to the otherwise formal speeches.
The more we learn the murkier the scenario becomes. Compassion is pitted against capability and the desperate need to meet real life demands is in conflict with clarity, process and administrative accountability.
While the level of immersion gives an interesting insight into the dramas and challenges of civic ruling, as a piece of theatre Committee doesn't transcend the real life records and evidence from which it's created. Thanks to talents of the creatives and cast it's watchable enough, but the main lesson we learn as audience member is that can make a musical about pretty much anything, if you really want to.
|What||Committee, Donmar Warehouse review|
|Where||Donmar Warehouse, 41 Earlham Street, Seven Dials, London, WC2H 9LX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Covent Garden (underground)|
24 Jun 17 – 04 Aug 17, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
|Price||£12 - £65|
|Website||Click here to book via Donmar Warehouse|