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General Secretary poses a scenario in which two totally unqualified, millennial women are asked to become world leaders, in the newly created roles of ‘General Secretaries’. The show is a satirical take on modern politics and society through a female lens that really spotlights Georgina Thomas and Cassie Symes’ comedic acting talent (known as the duo, ‘Thick ’n’ Fast’). The point? That two unmotivated, inexperienced young people can hardly achieve more absurd results than the outcomes of modern politics.
Thomas and Symes’ comedic acting skill is undeniable. Playing in an utterly realistic and deadpan style, we at once warm to them as they set the scene of the show as two aimless and lazy admin workers, wasting away around their dining table as they scroll through social media and complain about workloads. Their appearances as UN spokespeople, accompanied by comically generic European accents, were particularly entertaining and made for an exciting set up of the show.
However, the structure of the piece then descends into shorter, almost sketch-style scenes which allow for quick puns and surface-level humour and does not dig too deep into the original proposition of tackling the desire for power through a female lens. Furthermore, if we are to read deeper into the plot, I am left confused by the point of having a male character so easily thwart Cassie and Georgie’s plans to achieve world peace. It seems to impart that even powerful women are at the whim of male influence — which is a pretty damning thought, stripping women of all agency.
The show seems to be composed of some live performance (where Cassie and Georgie prepare to address the world as General Secretaries) and then mostly pre-recorded material. Whilst the pre-recorded material allows for really entertaining interjections from news reporters, pundits and YouTubers, it frustrated me that it was relied upon for other straightforward scenes which could have been performed live, thus taking away opportunity for a real spark between the two which live comedy theatre always encourages.
The show ties up with a brilliant Eurovision-style song, in the theme of the ‘World Vision Song Contest’ that the General Secretaries initiate to bring about world peace. As Cassie and Georgie don garish spandex and emulate an 80’s music video as they lounge on a white grand piano, the play finally reaches its peak in absurdity in a very enjoyable way. The pair’s harmonies are impressive and their lyrics are pun-filled, making it a punchy display of the absurdity the whole show had been aiming towards. I only wish that their songwriting talent had been put to more use and we’d seen this threaded through the entire show for its lighter moments, then opening up other scenes to a better-developed narrative.
General Secretary is playing online at Applecart Arts until 24th April. For more information and tickets, see Applecart Arts online