The Candidate @ Theatre Delicatessen Review

“You’ve joined The Candidate’s session.” – is the text we receive on our cell phones as we enter the polling system that is to be used on this highly interactive performance. If you do not care in the slightest about politics and social and economic issues then this show will not be your cup of tea. If you do care and you want to discuss these things, even if at the most basic of levels, then you should join the discussion at The Candidate.

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Matthew Flacks lays out the basic structure of our evening: we are to choose and vote for the ideal candidate – resting aside the commotion over the recent election results – we are told our vote matters this time around. We are given the choice, merely based on body language, between five different candidates: Omar 1,2,3,4 and 5. We vote anonymously through our phones and the results are instantly displayed on a projector screen, influencing the actors’ next moves. Omar Ibrahim (playing Omar) places himself in a very challenging situation as an actor. This show has over 75 different performance outcomes and the audience is free to ask any questions they would like to the candidate. This means Ibrahim is improvising throughout their rough structure and he does so quite impressively within the politicians’ usual manners of speech that are packed with cliché sayings, repetition and evasive answers to difficult questions.

Matthew is Omar’s adviser, constantly reprehending him to work on how he appears to be to the audience. This inevitably makes us think of how manipulating and shallow politics can be – the focus is to win, to appear to be what the people want you to be, and not actually to make the country a fairer place for everyone. The audience laughs throughout the performance yet we are also confronted with serious issues. It is obvious that at some point Omar is representing everything we hate in the system and there is almost an invisible alliance forming between us as issues like the austerity, the NHS and cost of rents are being discussed. In the end, Omar speaks to us plainly at last, not in sailing metaphors or catchy optimistic phrases, but for the first time he speaks as a human being who wants the best for all of us. The last poll shows his popularity has risen finally giving him a victory. But was this really honest or merely the appearance of honesty?

It is a saddening thought to think we do not have a voice that matters in a so-called democracy. We are merely led to believe we matter; we are sold an idea that we obediently buy. This performance may not be the sharpest or neatest artistically speaking, however it deals with very important issues in an energetic, exciting way. It is thought provoking and heart accelerating as you search for the answers to a better future. 4/5

Review written by Sofia Moura.

The candidate is currently showing at the Theatre Delicatessen until Saturday 16th May. For more information on the production, visit here…

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