Abigail Bryant reviews Lottery at the Pleasance
Lottery starts out with potential and intrigue, but unfortunately loses it’s way and spirals into a production that is all bark and no bite. Unfortunately for all (especially the suited and hot-pink booted cast), the Pleasance theatre does not cater well for sweaty summer evenings. However, the stifling heat wasn’t the only reason Lottery was a testing experience.
At a time when British politics is at the forefront of popular discourse, I had high hopes for Lottery, a dystopian satire that explores power relations in the context of a completely alternative voting system. Disappointingly, Fictive Theatre’s take on a society that appears to have rendered democracy redundant is devoid of intellect and carries a lazily written script which not only packs humour that falls flat, but is pointlessly offensive.
The world itself that the play inhibits is really interesting, and Lottery has a strong start, with relatable and compelling character developments and a witty, coherent introduction to the state-run facilities that govern how this society lives. This provides a strong framework and setting for a bold exploration of political power, but the first couple of scenes are deceptive, and once Ava Pickett’s character comes into power through ‘random selection’ the concepts and delivery get progressively worse, with bizarre breaks in narrative and self-referential anecdotes that were neither funny nor appropriate. The most genuinely amusing and engaging part of the production was when one character, in pretending to feed ducks, threw chunks of stale bread at the audience. The crumbs seemed to bounce off the audience better than any of the jokes did.
It’s important to note that despite Lottery’s flaws, all three actors make the best of a bad situation and shine in their roles, demonstrating big potential. Rhys Tees’ Machiavellian character could have been multifaceted, but instead is saturated with slapstick and ill-formed motivations. Although each character represents something larger than themselves, the audience is made to work for it, to the extent that you wonder whether any intelligent ideas were deliberate or accidental. It’s a shame that the direction takes the turn that it does, and that the script is littered with vacuous commentary, cack-hand satire and unsophisticated humour. The subject matter has huge scope for sharp, topical wit and an intelligent take on modern politics and power, but instead projects little sophistication and little space for any coherent analysis.
Although perhaps intended to predominately provide laughs over intellect, Lottery struggles to maintain any credibility because of it’s messy and downright silly trajectory.
Lottery plays at The Pleasance Theatre until the 4th June 2017.