Philobiblon: Running for the presidency ...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Running for the presidency ...

Politicians are often accused of being a bad example to children; the brawling at Prime Minister's Questions has frequently been compared to the quarrels of the schoolyard. No doubt the same complaints are made about US politicians.

The American Eric Henry Sanders, in writing The Prince Among Men, now at the Union Theatre, has turned these observations through 180 degrees and set the American presidential election of 2000 in a posh boys' boarding school, where the contest is for the position of Head Boy.

This makes for an entertaining ride, as the thuggish, drug-abusing, dim Bozo (played with verve by Jonathan Baker) is groomed for his run at leadership by the would-be power-behind-the-throne, the smart but curiously rat-like Dickie (Warren Rusher). The motivation here is the right to occupy his father's farmhouse for Half Term - and no doubt to get into all sorts of mischief.

As with the historical parallel, his father is a former Head Boy, and has thrown huge amounts of cash at the school, which ensures the acquiescence to all sorts of skullduggery by the unsubtly named deputy head, Professor Renfield, a DTs-afflicted, obviously inept man past his prime. (Nicely done by Anthony Wise).

Subtlety is not a big feature of the script. Dicky gets his tips from Machiavelli, and proclaims: "People will do anything if you frame it right." Bozo struggles with the Renaissance courtier's name, then wonders if it is a form of latte, before concluding that since he's going to be Head Boy, that proves he's smarter than his opponent. It is eerily familiar. READ MORE


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