With the demise of the repertory system, it is the fringe and alternative theatre that has stealthily and often in unrecognised ways provided the apprenticeship and forcing house in recent years for all that is best in our theatrical, cinematic and televisual life.
Seiriol Davies’s How to Win Against History is not quite like anything I’ve ever seen before. But then again, it is. A pastiche, a satire, a brilliant piece of aesthetic campery on a par with some of the best, wackiest shows of the alternative, gay scene of the late 1980s and ‘90s.
What with the BBC’s Gunpowder Plot and now Anders Lustgarten’s spymaster drama, we really seem unable to quite slough off our fascination with those grisly times when terrorism came in Catholic terms and we were once again at daggers drawn with our European neighbours.
Stewart Pringle’s Harry and Denise fortuitously keep meeting over the trestle table in the local village hall rented out for evening classes and meetings. Harry is one of the backbone-of-the-community types. Denise runs the zumba class.
Whoever decided to revive Chayefsky’s film via a stage production made an astute choice. Network could hardly be more topical or timely in an era that has become infamous for false truths, ‘fake news’ and where ideas have become truncated and traduced by social media.