Pauline Gibson (Siȃn Brooke) campaigned on a single issue – to keep her local hospital open against the meddling of politicians. On the back of this, she now finds herself not only walking the corridors of the House of Commons, but also as the bookies favourite to be the next leader of the Labour Party.
David Hare’s script hits the mark early on, with many of Gibson’s quick quips capturing the sentiment of political discourse at the present time. Her voice of dissent resonates clearly with the audience, and offers an insight into her success at the ballot box.
Gibson’s story may be a far cry from the current chaos at Westminster, but the focus of the drama feels like it should be better placed on the barriers to politics for women or indeed the intricacies of partisan politics when arriving from a background outwith the sphere. In reality, the piece is a tortured love story and a battle of wills, rather missing the open goal laid out for it.
Gibson’s university flame, Jack Gould (Alex Hassell), plays his squeaky New Labour part with concerning ease which does add to the spirit of the event, but dissection of Labour itself is light-touch at best and, whilst not proclaiming to be in parallel with the present day’s affairs, the play doesn’t quite manage to make itself believable.
Liza Sadovy’s portrayal of Gibson’s troubled mother offers the most touching moments of the production and the exploration of Gibson’s past is best examined during these often tender scenes.
Under the direction of Neil Armfield, the production is technically well polished, with an impressive rotating stage against an otherwise vast black void. but loses momentum in its climax. An unfathomable twist spoils any pace built up and rather than a razor-sharp political drama, the piece descends into farce.
Whilst a politically light piece, it is rather a disappointment that hugely topical issues are never properly explored. Whilst Hare may be attempting to normalise the role of women in politics, I’m Not Running fails to grasp the real issues associated with a woman… Aside from one sharp-tongued response from Gibson, you’d almost forget that her gender would be a barrier at all.
I’m Not Running will be screened in cinemas on 31st January. Book tickets here.
Fraser MacDonald @fr4ser