Theatre503, LondonEleXion at Theatre503, London. May 2015

Written prior to the General Election, Theatre503’s EleXion by five budding new writers seems almost to have come from another time, a lifetime away. One of the dangers perhaps of writing for a particular moment in history. What does it look like in retrospect?

These plays might have felt very different seen in the run-up and strangely, only one now seems eerily prescient. Spoken by the brother of a character in Chloe Todd Fordham’s Chicken and Chips, Abha comes forward to announce his candidature in the 2035 election painting a scene of social devastation as his motivation for standing. Spoken with slow deliberation by Dayo Koleosho, Todd Fordham’s vision may have been unduly bleak but it brought the loudest applause of the night.

Elsewhere, there was sparky writing from Ella Greenhill’s take on the cynicism of political life in Spaghetti with a Spoon as two female party workers and PRs – enemies, but once more than friends – gossip, betray each other and then offer comfort as one is sacked for drunkenly speaking her mind.

Brian Mullin’s Poles for UKIP is an instructive insight into the journey of immigrants from outsiders to insiders and reasons for standing and voting Conservative whilst Neasa O’Callaghan’s Negotiation for a Coalition shows posh middle class girl, Gina, coming to see the error of her ways in line with her boyfriend’s `alternative’, environmental lifestyle.

From a writing point of view, the most imaginative piece of the evening – if the most confusing – proved the most metaphorical, Vinay Patel’s Polly – an elaborate conceit based on boy-friend/girl-friend scenario around the wooing of Polly Public, fickle, undecided -female of course – blowing first this way then that, going with first one man then another. Clever enough if not helped by the structure of the evening equally swaying backwards and forwards through the plays and direction that at times slowed to a crawl.

Theatre503 is known for its encouragement of new writing talent. EleXion proved interesting in so far as it placed welcome emphasis on non-voters, immigrants and those excluded from voting. But as an evening to inspire hope, well, the jury on this evidence, is still out.

 First published in Reviewsgate May 2015