Share |

The Absence of War - Crucible Sheffield

Published by: Paul Tyree on 12th Feb 2015 | View all blogs by Paul Tyree

The Absence of War

by David Hare

Crucible Theatre in collaboration with Headlong and Rose Theatre Kingston


Reece Dinsdale in The Absence of War

 Photo by Mark Douet

David Hare's political satire of the 1992 general election featuring the momentous and influential battle between Margaret Thatcher and Neil Kinnock is here presented by the Crucible before going on tour around the country before the 2015 general election.

It is a timely revival and much benefits from the distance between that time and this.

Funnily enough it now resembles an extended episode of 'The Thick of It' a programme that it no doubt inspired.

The back room boys of any political party are now commonplace in our minds and we accept as a public that we are often hearing the ramblings of some underling that has briefed the politican of the day.

I would imagine that when this play first aired that as a nation we were not so well versed in the influence that others were having on our esteemed leaders.

This, it has to be said, stands out as a great play not just about politics but human beings themselves.

George Jones, played sublimly by Reese Dinsdale is the leader of the labour party but a man caught up in a battle between what he wants to say and what others believe he should say, between who he really is and who he must present  himself to be in order to be electable. It must be either a supreme honour or somewhat ironic that the first person to play the part was John Thaw, Reese Dinsdale's Tv father in 'Home to Roost'. It seems then that the acorn never falls  far from the tree.

Here Reese Dinsdale is perfect, not just in playing the part but also somewhat modernising it as well. Even though this is set in 1982, because of his youthful appearance (far more of a Tony Blair than a Neil Kinnock) it feels modern and somewhat relevant in a way that would not have happened had it been an older actor.

Here the 1982 setting is almost irrelevant. This is politics! The themes that this play addresses are undoubtedly as true today as they have ever been and that is perhaps why after all this time we can reflect and see what a masterpiece of theatre this truly is.

It goes without saying that the star of this particular piece is Reese Dinsdale. He proves just what a class act he is. His performance is touching, funny and ultimately heartbreakingly tragic as befits this 'nearly man' of british politics. It is particularly apt that ultimately he puts the fortunes of the party in front of his own ambition.

He, however, is well supported by a fantastic cast of actors. James Harkness as Andrew Buchan is excellent (although someone should tell him to project a bit more as some of us were straining to hear him in places). Don Gallagher who takes on two roles, the encumbent Prime Minister and a sleazy chat show host is marvellous in both and appears like a bad penny troughout the play to plague and test George.

All in all this play is another triumph for the Crucible theatre. It is fantastically well acted, in places hugely funny, but most importantly of all manages to give a human face to politicians and also politics. Its unique tragedy is the truth, perhaps of the situation, that even though we always cry out for the truth from our politicians that there is every reason to suggest that, were they to give it to us, that their political careers would be over before they had begun and that their 'Sophie's choice' is always going to plague them and define their lives as public servants.

This is what theatre was created for! GO SEE IT!!!!


Fri 13 Feb 7:30pm   £21.00* Book Tickets
Sat 14 Feb 2:30pm   £16.00* Book Tickets
Sat 14 Feb 7:30pm   £23.00* Book Tickets
Mon 16 Feb 6:00pm   Pre-Show Question Time Event Book Tickets
Mon 16 Feb 7:30pm   £21.00* Book Tickets
Tue 17 Feb 7:30pm Audio Described, Signed £21.00* Book Tickets
Wed 18 Feb 2:30pm Captioned £16.00* Book Tickets
Wed 18 Feb 7:30pm   £21.00* Book Tickets
Thu 19 Feb 7:30pm   £21.00* Book Tickets
Fri 20 Feb 7:30pm   £21.00* Book Tickets
Sat 21 Feb 2:30pm   £16.00* Book Tickets
Sat 21 Feb 7:30pm   £23.00* Book Tickets


  • 55 Norfolk St, Sheffield, S1 1DA, South Yorkshire , United Kingdom
  • Box Office: 0114 249 6000


1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 3 years ago
    Thanks, Paul. This sounds excellent.
Please login or sign up to post on this network.
Click here to sign up now.