The Chair Plays – Hammersmith Lyric Studio, until 05 May
Edward Bond’s one-act Have I None, first performed in 2009, is a lacerating fifty-five minute portrayal of humanity surviving in a post- consumerist world. It hinges on Bond’s neat take on the dystopian vision; usually we are provided with one of two choices, either a world that initially appears to have the trapping of a democracy and people seem to have every whim catered before it becomes obvious that it is sustained by the brutal repression of the masses, Hunger Games being the $£750 million example of this. The alternative is a society controlled by a militaristic bureaucracy where everything seems to exist on a tonal palette running from grey to greyer; Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four or Pinter’s New World Order both seem appropriate here.
In Have I None, Bond has carved his own path. The play considers a world where humanity has seen society destroy itself through its consumerist appetites; a character describes people buying sports car just to crash them into walls. In response people have turned to the state for action, and the Government has acted by creating ‘resettled’ towns where the past has been banned and the only personal possessions allowed are those provided by the state. It is enforced equality in action.
Those towns that have not been resettled are infected by mass suicide outbreaks, which give Bond a chance to turn his often-underutilised poetic skills to the sight of rows and rows of people in overcoats waiting for their turn to leap from a bridge. It is a classic Bond technique; every-day brutality that is captured by a lyricism that suggests a beauty that attracts and alienates in equal measure.