If Only comes to Chichester’s Minerva Theatre

If Only will be performed at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester.
If Only will be performed at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester.
Poet and author Benjamin Zephaniah

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Fast-moving political events will certainly keep the actors on their toes in Chichester’s Minerva Theatre in If Only by David Edgar (June 14- July 27)

The piece looks at the moral dilemmas at the heart of coalition government – and will be rewritten along the way to reflect what’s happening in the news.

Jamie Glover, who plays Tory MP Peter, said: “It has been quite extraordinary. I listen to the Today programme every day, and it looks like we could be outstripped by events! We are hearing about scenarios happening now in the news that David Edgar was talking about six months ago for the play. I don’t think I have ever been in anything so current.

“‘Certain events in the play have to be locked down, but if things change then we are going to have to change with them. There does seem to be some kind of implosion going on in the Tory party at the moment... Whether the coalition lasts until July 27, we will have to see!

‘If the play had opened two weeks before, David Edgar would have been seeming like a prophet!’

It’s April 16 2010, the day after the first prime ministerial debate. Stranded in Malaga Airport by the Icelandic ash-cloud, a Labour special advisor, a Lib Dem staffer and a Tory candidate consider their options. Can their parties survive without them? How will they get back home? And who’ll end up in government?

Fast forward to August 4 2014 when the three politicians meet again. One of them knows something that could change the outcome of the 2015 election. Should they reveal it? And at what cost?

Jamie describes himself as generally interested in politics in a detached way: ‘It’s a responsibility really in a certain sense to know what is going on, but by no means would I count myself an expert on the cross currents of modern party politics.

‘But there is another thrust in the play that the problem with modern politics is that from all sides of the political debate, modern politics seems to be a race to the centre ground, trying to sniff out what the public wants, and the consequence of that is that people all seem to occupy the same territory.’

Jamie harks back to his own adolescence when the party leaders were Thatcher and Kinnock, with the most monumental divide between the two, giving the voter a very real choice: ‘They really did stand for very different things.’

Not that Jamie wants to get into any kind of politician-bashing: ‘I do think that politicians are given a bit of a bum rap, though. They are damned if they do and damned if they don’t, and they are open to a particularly ruthless kind of scrutiny the whole time. I certainly wouldn’t want to be a politician myself.

‘In this I play a Tory MP. He was elected as an MP in a by-election in Wiltshire in 2008. He was quite a big wheel in the Howard/Hague Tory campaigns.’

But Jamie is understandably reluctant to say too much more about him. He’s delighted, though, to be back in the Minerva, his first time there since the mid-1990s when he appeared in Playing The Wife alongside Sir Derek Jacobi.

‘Those are very, very happy memories. It is great to be back.’

Tickets: £10 to £40 from CFT on (01243) 781312 or go to cft.org.uk.