BWW Review: THE MAJORITY, National Theatre

BWW Review: THE MAJORITY, National TheatreBWW Review: THE MAJORITY, National TheatreIf you've ever wondered whether the typical National Theatre audience is mainly comprised of liberal, white Remain voters, wonder no more. The first few minutes of the press night for The Majority emphatically confirmed this is indeed the case.

That tangential bombshell aside, The Majority proves somewhat less clichéd than its National press night crowd. Rob Drummond's new show is less a play and more a piece of storytelling with added participatory morality.

The story in question is slightly bizarre, starting with a chance encounter Drummond had in the aftermath of the Scottish independence referendum. Via beekeeping, fascism accusations and violence, it leads to a fundamental questioning of whether it's OK to act in certain ways towards certain people. Pointing out it is 'mainly true', Drummond sews just enough of a seed of doubt to keep you wondering which parts might not be.

The participatory element is provided by keypads given to every audience member. Aside from the first few 'getting to know the community' questions and a couple of more frivolous 'just for fun' votes, the standard format is for Drummond to pose a proposition, the audience to press 1 for 'yes' or 2 for 'no', then the percentage votes to be displayed. It's a neat way to get audience members involved without them having to lose their anonymity or dignity by being called up on stage - most of the time.

The morality aspect is woven largely around the well-known 'trolley' or 'runaway train' problem. Increasingly troubling variations of this are put to the audience, and a small but notable 'yes' percentage for one in particular had me hoping that people had either hit 1 by accident or were testing whether the live voting actually was live. But in an age of endless spoilers, I was glad to be in a small 'no' majority to avoid one when it was offered. Some things are better left a mystery.

The Majority is a slick production, simply staged in the round with minimal design by Jemima Robinson featuring a dominant honeycomb structure (in reference to beekeeping, but also perhaps to the audience hive mind?) and limited props. The use of live technology, including screens and an illuminated floor that doubles as a countdown clock, gives the feeling of a morality test for the social media age.

Drummond, who wrote the show and performs solo for its interval-free duration, is always engaging, often amusing and never afraid of making the audience feel a little uneasy. David Overend's direction also helps to keep things ticking along apace.

So would this reviewer recommend the show? One last time, I'm hitting 1 for 'yes'.

The Majority at the National Theatre until 28 August

Photo credit: Ellie Kurttz

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From This Author Emma Watkins

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