Tag Archives: Angelo Leal

An Enemy of the People

An Enemy of the People

Union Theatre

An Enemy of the People

An Enemy of the People

Union Theatre

Reviewed – 10th January 2019



“a very difficult play which Willmott’s ambitious adaptation struggles to realise”


To be an ‘enemy of the people’ is a loaded term, one dragging along with it a history of censorship and autocratic rule. It is a threat, and one that Arthur Miller chose to employ in order to explore what might happen when the truth comes up against the will of the majority. An Enemy of the People was first adapted by Miller from a play by Ibsen and has now been updated by Phil Willmott who has placed the story in Trump’s America. In a world of post-truth and populism, this may seem like a close fit but the text itself seems unbending in this update, not lending itself to an easy parallel with the absurdity of Trump’s politics.

This production finds the intellectual Dr Stockmann fighting to save an impoverished provincial American town from building a new spa whose springs are polluted. The town, eager to see some prosperity, slowly turn against the well respected doctor, treating his scientific assessment, his facts, into fiction. Pitted against him stands Mayor Stockmann, his sister and unscrupulous career politician.

Dr Stockmann and Mayor Stockmann, however, seem to struggle to live in the same era: the mayor comes across as a 21st century corporate populist while her brother embodies a conscientious man from the 19th century, ignorant of the political dangers he puts himself in because of his pursuit of truth. It is difficult for the other characters to negotiate the space between these two wildly different positions. It becomes a play in which characters embody their political views with zeal rather than conviction.

The cast, made up of refreshingly mixed ages, generally holds the show well, though some of the American accents could have been a little tighter. Mary Stewart plays Mayor Stockmann as a woman for the first time, an excellent move which Stewart delivers with precision and charm. Jed Shardlow also delivers a convincing torn radical newspaper editer, Hovstad.

As ever, the Union Theatre’s simple but evocative staging (Jonny Rust and Justin Williams)  works well to turn a small revolving platform into a construction site. The simplicity of the staging, however, seemed to leave the actors constricted in terms of movement. Some clearer physical choices, or chairs, were needed.

This is a very difficult play which Willmott’s ambitious adaptation struggles to realise. The battle between tyranny and truth alone makes for a stilted drama that misses the opportunity to explore the subtleties of politics becoming very personal. The parallels with Trump’s America do make the play very relevant but a Brexit boggled UK audience, might find it tricky to relate to the characters, not least because a political debate of this sort would be postponed until after Christmas.


Reviewed by Tatjana Damjanovic

Photography by Scott Rylander




An Enemy of the People

Union Theatre until 2nd February


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Heartbreak House | ★★★★ | January 2018
Carmen 1808 | ★★★★★ | February 2018
The Cherry Orchard | ★★★★ | March 2018
Twang!! | ★★★★ | April 2018
H.R.Haitch | ★★★★ | May 2018
It’s Only Life | ★★★★ | June 2018
Around the World in Eighty Days | ★★★ | August 2018
Midnight | ★★★★★ | September 2018
Brass | ★★★★ | November 2018
Striking 12 | ★★★★ | December 2018


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Rush – 3.5 Stars



The Space

Reviewed – 21st August 2018


“promises to intrigue a fresh audience, present fundamental truths obscured by social media brainwashing and spark discussion”


To an older audience ‘RUSH’ is an affirmation of the frightening hold social media has on life nowadays, but for the young it is their actuality. Personality and human subtlety are being lost in an imposed multiple choice of reactions and perceptions as they race to display fun, beauty, happiness, success … no falling by the wayside with sadness, failure or confusion. Wrapped up in virtual identification, they lose contact with the reality around them. Writer/Director Tiwalade Ibirogba-Olulode, in a clever combination of irony and poignancy, uses her own issues with anxiety and depression to spotlight the effects of being brought up in the digital age.

The cast of five characters named Alex works in tight, well-coordinated formation to set a scene of hectic disarray and engage with the audience to recreate a distorted world of messages, comments, images and information, which seduces and ensnares the younger generation, in particular. The actors perform with relentless energy to project the intensely blinkered attitude of keeping up appearances and keeping up with friends. Each Alex inhabits a different state of mind, causing or caused by disorientation between the here-and-now and on-screen existence. These stories vary in clarity, adding a possibly unintended sense of perplexity to the play. Ruth Oyediran portrays some wonderful caricatures throughout the play but the significance of her troubled moment is not immediately obvious. The lost soul (Marie Williamson) is the easiest to follow, with a moving touch to her performance, and Jaden Baker’s amusing confusion with online dating is one of his several distinctive personalities. Georgia Sidell’s hidden passion comes as an uneasy surprise, in contrast to the surrounding larger-than-life smiles and laughter and a feeling of discomfort emanates as we watch Angelo Leal suffering in silence against a background of unawareness. Visually, the production is extremely captivating with original movement sequences (James Monckton), interesting use of the stage area and varied group interaction.

Certain parts of the work are better constructed and balanced than others, exposing scenes which fail to fall into the overall shape. With an engaging opening and a thoughtful summing up, the development of ideas feels more like a patchwork of expression. Easy to relate to, evident by last night’s largely young following, ‘RUSH’ promises to intrigue a fresh audience, present fundamental truths obscured by social media brainwashing and spark discussion.


Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington 



The Space until 25th August



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