Production Reviews & Views
“I saw the play at Conway Hall, an apt location for a play about issues which are once again relevant to the political and social life of Britain today; responses to poverty and to conflict within and between nations, woven into a personal story of great interest and pathos. The actors were all excellent, switching roles convincingly and dealing with varying sets of emotions and narrative elements without losing the audience. The writing, too, wove together the personal and political aspects of Salter’s life without losing focus on either, putting them both in the wider context of Britain between the two World Wars and raising questions about what sort of society we want and how to go about achieving it.”
"Without perhaps setting out to, now that the UK referendum had ended with a Leave majority, and Trump is US President, the play asks an important question: have we learnt nothing from history, and are we set on a course to repeat it, albeit unwittingly?
"There was a strong sense of cohesion within the company. I was moved by the women’s performances especially and the writing really soared around the death of Joyce and later of Ada. The inclusion of the Sassoon poem was almost unbearably poignant.”
“All credit then to Alison Mead who’s not only done some incredible research but is well on the way to sculpting the dry facts into an epic, family and political saga.”
“This show took more risks in portraying Dr. Salter, and his wife Ada to a lesser extent, as flawed heroes. The use of Dr. Salter’s brother as a narrator was a particularly effective dramatic device: the contrasting, and conflicting, personalities of the two brothers added much to the dramatic tension. Well worth seeing.”
“This seemed to me to be an important play right now, speaking with eloquence, intelligence and heart about the importance of goodness and principle in the face of evil and cynicism.”
“We have just seen the matinee of Politic Man at The Quaker Meeting House in Blackheath. It was a clear, and moving story about a highly principled member of the independent labour party, a doctor and a politician living and working amongst the poor in Bermondsey. The play was a very successful mix of authentic extracts, aided by some well chosen projections, with imaginative reconstructions of life during the first half of the twentieth century. Among the committed cast Kerry Skinner and Rachael Harper were outstanding. Highly recommended.”
Another lifetime ago, I was looking for a new idea or person to write about. A friend sent me a book “Bermondsey Story” by Fenner Brockway. It wasn’t the greatest read of my life; rather stuffy; a little bit of the old boys matey-ness that I dislike and sparse reference to Ada Salter who was his “Great comrade” as he calls her towards the end of the play. But it was a start.
And many times, it has been put away through lack of vision, self-defeat, disabuse, lack of self-belief and a hundred and one other reasons. The over-riding reason is that I simply did not feel qualified to write about a great local figure that no-one in the wider world had ever heard of.
So why did I keep going? Because it became clear that the world that I understood a few years ago, was spiralling downwards and that values that I was brought up with were fading. The Salters had strong beliefs in working for the good of the people. They were both leaders and they both served. But as I look around, I don’t see our leaders having those same principles and I am worried about that. So, I took the play out of its wrapper and started over. And I had a lot of help; some of those have given me feedback that I found painful to receive; others sat me down and went through it line by line; others – actor friends with a spare day- read it aloud with passion and skill and still more people came along to advise, console, encourage and criticise.
Then came the means to afford a production in this financial climate. Arts Council turned me down four times. Other smaller funders were as generous as their reduced coffers could allow.
And just as I was about to give up, another good friend told me about Ugly Duck creative space and I applied and I got in! So, on the inevitable shoe string and with able help from so many, we are finally here. An exciting cast; a willing and hardworking creative team and an empty space to work in.
Why write this play? Why write anything? For me it is because I have something to say; to make a point; to annoy; to inform; to change.
I truly believe that Theatre changes people. Not a radical change perhaps but a different point of view. Or to put it another way: “The theatre may now be the only place in society where people can go to hear the truth” (David Mamet)
Alison Mead. September 2016
Clockwise: Top left Paul Boichat and Glen Wilson in rehearsal. Top right: Kerry Skinner as Ada Salter and Rachel Harper as Evelyn Lowe.
Bottom right: Tea with the Churchills at Chartwell. (Mike Aherne, Paul Boichat and Rachel Harper) Bottom Left: Rachel Harper as Joyce and Kerry Skinner as Ada Salter.