To vote or not to vote, that is the question. Most ordinary folk would rather tick a few numbers on the Lottery than tick a box in a polling booth on 6 May, and this new documentary drama from the Look Left Look Right company examines the causes of political apathy in West Yorkshire: people didn't know about local elections; they feel alienated; the most popular video on YouTube is the one of Gordon Brown picking his nose and eating it.
The material is based on research by Stephen Coleman, a specialist in political communication at Leeds University. In the great echoing debating chamber of County Hall by the London Eye, Coleman is played by an actor, Simon Poland, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Nick Clegg.
The most powerful strands in the show, a set of fair-to-middling sketches, emerge as an Independent candidate lets rip about a pointless work of public art when a community centre might have been more welcome; or the anti-European stance of the BNP strikes home with an Asian Briton whose wife has a Swedish passport.
The format is similar to that of David Hare's The Power of Yes without the shaping hand of a dramatist, though Steve Bottoms is credited with "co-writer" status; the directors, Ben Freedman and Mimi Poskitt, use the horseshoe-shaped chamber as a large study in which the professor flashes up his photographs of Yorkshire while six actors re-enact the interviews.
The voting apathy seems to reflect a discontinuity between constituents and their politicians unrelated either to the fuzziness of their policies or even the scandal of their expenses. It's clearly, depressingly, a cultural thing, with an ITV producer reminding the professor that if David Cameron went on I'm a Celebrity and got covered in bugs, he'd win more votes.
We shall see if that changes, as the Nick Clegg surge shakes out. Meanwhile, Counted? raises many good questions, though it's hard to hear the detail in the treacherous acoustic of the chamber.
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