C Ellis-Stoneman's Review
Reviewing The Play About Theresa May as an extra curricular activity, C has this to share...
The Play About Theresa May is a somewhat misleading title, but then I suppose Two Plays About Theresa May Separated By An Interview From The Playwright is less catchy; funnily enough, this is indicative of exactly how I feel about the material itself. Of the three main sections in Amie M Marie’s strong and stable themed work, it’s only the actual play (featuring Jacob Rees Mogg as the ghost of Tory past, a junior doctor clown, and then-timely jokes galore) that feels engaging. If The Play About Theresa May was actually just, well, the play about Theresa May, then this review would probably be very different; I laughed out loud at the long, protracted innuendo that was May’s marriage to Brexit (played by a poor, unsuspecting audience member), and I think Marie writes political satire incredibly well. Alas, it is not. Amie M Marie, your editor did you dirty.
The initial duologue between May and poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy is....odd. This is possibly because of the format; it seems like May’s bubbling hysteria would work better on stage rather than simply being read, as would Duffy’s increasing Scottish-accented annoyance. The link between Duffy and Virgil, both writing propaganda pieces for their respective overlords, while creative, felt slightly overwrought; it wasn’t a parallel I would’ve picked up on without Marie’s introduction, making it difficult to evaluate how funny the parallel is, exactly, which almost defeats the point. But it was readable.
The same could not be said of the strange middle section, which contained an interview with Marie and a colleague about a piece of performance art they’d performed in Parliament while dressed as clowns. I think the idea of this wasn’t bad - an abridged version of the interview would’ve been a nice bonus - but it just kept going, rehashing the difference between protest and performance art, and it’s also where I found the most spelling errors (such as bare instead of bear). As soon as the interview was over, there was a transcript of the video footage of the performance that was already explained, step-by-step, in the interview. Nothing about reading this transcript is entertaining. I’m sure the video and the performance itself is worth watching, but this section was too long, too clunky, and dragged the rest of the book down with it.
The thing is: Amie M Marie is funny. I have no idea why she chose to make May flirt with Jeremy Hunt who was played by a broom (did I miss something in 2017 fields-of-wheat mania?), but it made me laugh out loud, as did a brash, bullying Two Pints Garage as Nigel Farage. Macron’s one word answers - alternately non and oui - juxtapose well with May’s desperate blabbering, and in light of the recent posturing over fishing in the North Sea post-Brexit, it seems even more relevant. It’s easy to forget just how insidiously awful May’s government was; it’s tempting to look back on the heady days of 2017-18 and reminisce about a time before covid PPE scandals and Priti Patel’s penchant for bullying civil servants, when the worst thing we had to contend with was Brexit and the slogan ‘strong and stable’. But Marie’s play, intentionally or not, reminds us that the Conservative Party has always been callous, cruel, and contemptuous - they’ve just gotten worse at hiding it in a time of national crisis.
In conclusion Amie M Marie is a talented playwright, but she should switch publishers if they’re not even going to do the most basic level of proofreading. The Play About Theresa May is a play I would pay to see, but it is not a book I would pay to read.