Saturday, July 26, 2014

Kissinger and Tell

The Naked Theatre’s production of Kissinger and Tell by Jim Grover and Steve Gilmour is a hilarious but poignant political satire. Using as its base the 1971 news stories circulated that Secretary of State Kissinger was visiting Prime Minister Edward Heath, the play explores a "what if" scenario if an actor had been hired to play Kissinger in London while the real Kissinger was actually on his historic visit to China. 

Grover and Gilmour use elements familiar from  Angels in America such as Margaret Thatcher appearing in Kissinger's dream and a misunderstanding (over sexual orientation) between Kissinger and Heath.  Valerie Kaneko Lucas theatricalizes the script using juxtaposition between two sets of dialogue, period music, and each actor's strength and uniqueness. 

The focus of the fictional meeting between an actor playing Kissinger and Heath is the demand by the US for the UK to get involved in the Vietnam War.  This element of the play resonates today after Britain's involvement in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. 

Gareth Pilkington's role as an actor playing Kissinger, being put into this diplomatic situation reminds the audience  that "politics is all acting."  Keith Ackermann's portrays the Prime Minister Heath as someone who is being pressured by the Foreign Secretary Sir Alec Douglas-Home played by Richard Ings.  Louisa Gummer's portrayal of Thatcher includes a tirade about gardening and bombing that is quite chilling, knowing what would happen in the 1980s after she became Prime Minister. Marc Blaidd's Nixon with a distorted mask is effective in emphasizing the president's well-known  bulliness and terrible temper.

Colour House Theatre,   Wimbledon, UK
July 25, 2014