The Open

Florence Bell
The Space London

The Open Credit: Kit Dambite
Arthur (Priyank Marjaria) and Patrick (Tom Blake) Credit: Kit Dambite
Bella (Emma Austin ) and Jana (Heidi Niemi) Credit: Kit Dambite

Florence Bell takes us to post-Brexit Britain 2050, where the UK has been sold to the USA to become the Great British Golf Course.

But Jana (Heidi Niemi), employed in low status hospitality work, has spotted a flaw in the one-purpose economy. She has noticed that no-one is being paid any wages.

Walking out on the job, she bumps into Bella (Emma Austin), a manager she doesn’t know in an area she shouldn’t be. But Bella has a lover on her mind, so she simply gets Jana to pose for a selfie with her, before ushering her away.

Later, Bella is demoted for not detaining the striker, for it seems people who don’t work have to be punished and in the case of migrants like Jana, who originates in Estonia, they have to be killed following a period in detention.

Not surprisingly, Jana thinks there needs to be a rebellion against this society she refers to as fascist, but everybody else seems strangely content. When she points out to her friend Arthur (Priyank Morjaria) who describes the place as utopia that he is in effect a slave, he doesn’t disagree but simply points out, “at least I am British”.

She has better luck with Patrick (Tom Blake), who declares his love for her after they have an exciting sexual encounter. But he too doesn’t want to protest.

Not that Arthur and Patrick don’t have their sad moments. They are sad about the death of a great speaker one of them vaguely recalls might be called Hitler.

Eventually, Jana gets so angry, she defiantly sings “God Save the Queen” which for some reason has become a dangerously subversive song.

In outline, The Open might have looked like it was satire but this is played straight with few people in the audience raising a smile. Although it touches on numerous political issues, it does so in a manner that is unbelievable. The plot has more holes than a Boris Johnson Brexit plan

Theatre world generally voted remain and can’t understand what kind of person could possibly have voted leave, so there is a tendency to give us plays like this (think of the National Theatre’s My Country) that offer no understanding, characters that have no depth and simple horror stories with no dramatic tension.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna

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