The Fairground Years, written and directed by Sophia Charalambous, offers an insight into Tony Blair’s private and political life during his time as Prime Minister. We follow a power hungry, selfish and chauvinistic Alistair Sedgefield (Sam Greville-Smith) down his slippery slope of self destruction. Upon becoming owner of a fairground, Sedgefield is unable to control his ambition, resulting in his eventual alienation from his best friend, his wife and most importantly for him, from the general public.
Serious as this may sound, some comic interjections ensured a light hearted break for the less politically minded. The character Mary, a representation of Blair’s adoring public, was played vivaciously by Natalie Barclay. Her grimaces at her husband George and her attempt to win Alistair for herself proved a humorous hit with the audience but behind the hilarity lay a clever representation of the vain, sinful and fickle public.
The representation for each of the characters was made obvious by the use of symbolic costumes and names; Alistair’s surname being ‘Sedgefield’ alluding to where Tony Blair was a Member of Parliament. An innovative set, which contrasted a naturalistic depiction of Alistair’s home and office life against a surreal backdrop of fairy lights, mirrors and other fairground related objects, was a great reflection of Alistair’s two different personas: his inner thoughts, which he shares with the audience throughout the play and his public face which he shares with the other characters.
Some comparisons, especially the choice of Cynthia, (a representation of Margaret Thatcher) as Alistair’s role model, and the choice of a fairground to represent Great Britain were more difficult to decipher. Instead of a detailed look at Blair’s mistakes in power Sophia Charalambous’s production focuses on the effects of power and ambition and presents the idea that we are all human after all.