A one-sided play that backfires spectacularly

Theatre review: I’m Not Running David Hare's play sets up some interesting questions, but it fails to provide any answers.


(Image credit: Photo by Mark Douet)

I'm Not Running

Ran at the Lytletton in the National Theatre until 31 January

In David Hare's play, independent MP Pauline Gibson (Sin Brooke) faces the dilemma of whether or not to challenge insider Jack Gould (Alex Hassell) for the open leadership of the Labour Party. The situation is complicated by the fact that, as we learn in a series of flashbacks, Gibson and Gould have history. Not only were they romantically involved as students, but Gould was involved in the hospital closure that prompted Gibson to leave medicine and go into politics.

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The first half of the play sets up some interesting questions. Is it better for policy to be made by experts from Westminster,or by those on the frontline?Is genuine political change a result of the actions of individuals or that of a wider movement? Has the political class become too hereditary and isolated from the rest of society?

Hare seems uninterested in providing any answers, however. Worse, he seems to forget the rule about making the opposing viewpoint in a debate as strong as possible, and opts to turn Gould into a caricature. Indeed, one gets the impression that Hare hasn't quite got over a certain former prime minister. The one-sidedness backfires by the end of the play you end up having a lot of sympathy for Gould, especially compared with his overly righteous rival.

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

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