James Graham’s Tory Boyz is a fly-on-the-wall peek at what happens behind closed doors in the House of Commons. It is a wholly fantastic 90 minute play with some great young actors. Rewritten from its original 2008 setting to today’s previously unthinkable political landscape of the coalition of the Lib Dems and Tories, the relevance of this play is obvious.
The story follows young gay researcher Sam in his discovery of the stickier end of politics. Uncovering and investigating long-buried rumours about former party members makes for a wonderfully written play, surely sealing Graham’s future as a brilliant writer. It is unsurprising that his latest play, This House, is currently a sell-out smash hit.
Simon Lennon, as the lead character, Sam, struggles with his own identity alongside those of the party to whom he chose to pledge his allegiance. This, married with the juxtaposition of Sam’s background against his aspirations, in a touching and sensitive performance, convinces me that his is certainly a face we will be seeing again. Sope Dirisu’s languidly arrogant portrayal of Nicholas, Sam’s boss, is equally compelling, though in a completely different manner. Dirisu’s charisma lit up the Ambassadors Theatre and was an absolute delight. Despite playing the character whose lines ensured he earned the most laughs from the audience, infallible timing and punchy delivery of his quips ensured he was not predictable and as a result my attention did not falter.
I’m convinced these young people on stage for this production will go on to have extremely successful careers in an industry widely infamous for being harsh and competitive. Tory Boyz stars the next generation of phenomenal talent sourced by the ever reliable National Youth Theatre.
We must remember that this production was performed by a young cast, and we therefore can’t expect it to be a perfect West End show. Some of the scenes seemed a little haphazard, especially the parts set in the school, where Sam thoughtfully asks school children what they think should become of matters concerning education. I’m also not convinced it was necessary to link present day goings on to long dead former members of the party who ruled those same offices. Despite this, I don’t believe it was too far off overall.
With so many breathlessly poignant observations delivered in witty little sound bites, it’s easy to see why Tory Boyz sold out in its original form in Soho 2008. I did not see the production the first time round but this version makes me wish I had, especially if the cast were as stellar.
Tory Boyz is at the Ambassadors Theatre on 8, 9, 22 and 29 October. For more information and tickets visit the National Theatre’s website.