A Beginner’s Guide to Populism is a light-hearted comedy about power that becomes darker and darker as the performance goes on, leaving the audience with a feeling of intense unease about the state of the world.
Antonia Morgan is a career politician desperate to get into power even if it means compromising her intellectual integrity. Wishing to gain a seat, she employs populist rhetoric to win over the villagers of Little Middleton. The biggest issue facing the village is the prospect of becoming part of a larger garden city and losing its rural charm. Colleen Cousins has been active in setting up a committee to combat the looming changes but her policies have not been radical enough. Enter Morgan who, on the advice of her aide Jeremy Taylor and goaded by villager Brian, commits to preventing Little Middleton’s loss of its independent identity against her better judgement.
The play is an excellent, if rather generalised, reflection of the burgeoning rule of a tyrannical majority. It begins satirically with Brian declaring independence for Little Middleton, before moving towards a dark ending as the mob takes over.
A Beginner’s Guide to Populism is a little slow to begin with but develops into a wonderfully acted piece that uses humour effectively to emphasise its dark message. A funny and occasionally deeply concerning hour which will leave you convinced that we need better politicians.