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Review: The President Has Come to See You, Royal Court weekly rep has a tenative start

280x157.fitandcropWhen the post show discussion on Twitter centres on whether forgotten lines and prompts were part of the play or not is does have you wondering. At first I thought it was me and not the play, as to why I was a little confused about what was going on but the discussion highlighted the small amount of time the actors had to rehearse. Now I am thinking it might have been the play.

The President Has Come to See You is the first in a season of six new plays in the Royal Court's Open Court season. The idea is to have one company of actors performing a play a week with one week's rehearsal.

It was only late last week that the company was announced presumably drastically reducing their rehearsal time for this first play. And if that was indeed the case then they did a sterling job considering but there was a scene about three quarters through that became very fragmented with forgotten lines. Paul Bhattacharjee, playing the President, seemed to get angry either with himself or the slow prompt and some of the other actors looked a little awkward.

The confusion about whether it was part of the play or not also stemmed from the fact that the story involved an element of reality TV. The narrative centres on the Georgian President's attempt to hide among his people when the Russian's invade. He is treated differently by each person he comes across. But this narrative is interwoven with scenes from a Big Brother-style TV show that is heavily laced with pro-Georgia propaganda.

At the beginning of the play, which is by Georgian playwright Lasha Bugadze, one of the Royal Court stage crew prepares the President for a speech and then reappears to make announcements throughout. The President also had what looked like a script with him most of the time but this could have been genuine need rather than a prop. Eventually he ends up at the Big Brother house.

It had some nice little vignettes but overall felt disjointed. I'm not sure how much was lost in translation or in a lack of knowledge of Georgian politics, history or culture. Perhaps it could benefit from a little fleshing out and I don't often say that.

A tentative start to the Royal Court's weekly rep and I'm hoping that the second play next week will at least have the benefit of the full week's rehearsal.

Below is a short video of the company getting their official shots taken.