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Published 3 December 2014

What’s it all about?

Playwright Jack Thorne moves from writing about blood-sucking vampires for Let The Right One In to politicians for new play Hope. What do you mean that’s not a huge leap?

In fairness, these politicians are local councillors trying their best to understand and work with the cuts being imposed on them and their community. It’s the very definition of a lose-lose situation.

So far, so state-of-the-nation tub-thumping, but Thorne, director John Tiffany and his cast perfectly illuminate the personal human tales surrounded by national issues.

Who’s in it?

Paul Higgins leads the cast as deputy council leader Mark in a role not too distant from his recent screen outing in Dennis Kelly-penned thriller Utopia; a torn politician desperately trying to do the right thing but tormented by his own demons.

Stella Gonet swaps Maggie Thatcher, who she played in Handbagged, for a similarly strong Labour leader of the council, imbuing her with the same steeliness associated with the Iron Lady, but a touch more humanity.

Rudi Dharmalingam brings youthful ambition, idealism and a thirst for change to the rising star Sarwan.

What should I look out for?

Tom Scutt’s brilliantly realised town hall set, complete with packed noticeboard, am-dram stage and the essential parquet flooring.

The exuberant, sharp wit brought by Tommy Knight to literature-loving teenage son Jake, who, like every good teenager, knows everything.

The devastating death of social democracy speech delivered by Tom Georgeson that leaves you on the verge of weeping at what we have become.

In a nutshell?

Just when you thought it was impossible to feel sorry for politicians, Jack Thorne pops up with a sharp, witty and compelling tale of councillors trying their best in an unwinnable situation.

What’s being said on Twitter?

@LeonieMellingerJust seen #Hope @royalcourt. Can’t remember last time I felt so moved. Everyone go see this. Brings fire to the belly. Ed M must see this!

@caraballingall Press night for #Hope @royalcourt: a great example of how crucial political theatre is. Enlightening and empathising.

Will I like it?

This is not a jingle bell-shaking festive feel-good treat. The picture painted by Hope is bleak but, let’s be honest, it’s one we’re sure to recognise. But while the political landscape is depressing, Hope’s humanity makes the arguments accessible, the passion of local politicians striving to aid their communities is encouraging rather than damning and, like all good Christmas shows, it comes with an ending that provides, well, hope.

If you fancy a more serious production with something to say this festive season, Hope will do the job. It’s a play that’s not just for Christmas but for – and of – the entire year.


Hope plays at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs until 10 January. You can book tickets through the theatre’s website.


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