The New Wimbledon Theatre is running a programme called From the Fringe in its small Studio from 4th to 22nd June, with a different show (sometimes two shows) each evening. Largely comprising sketches and stand-ups, these performances are mostly being prepared for the forthcoming Edinburgh Festival. But there was nothing preparatory about Amendments, the show I went to see the other day. It is a perfect comic gem.
The Middle-Weight Theatre Company, based in Exeter, has a small team of actors and actresses, but only two of them are needed for this play, which is being taken to various small venues around the country. The hour-long play – and it doesn’t seem a minute too long – is set in the office of a senior manager in a large company, who is taking to task a junior manager of one of his teams. The latter has been accused of inappropriate behaviour towards a female member of staff, and the former is trying to make him see the error of his ways by reminding him of company policy on equality, diversity and inclusivity, and on the consequent need to avoid the use of language that could be interpreted as sexist, exclusionary or oppressive.
Doesn’t sound like a barrel of laughs? Believe me, it is. Political correctness has never been so hilarious as when the two men joust and spar from their opposing viewpoints. It is a serious matter. Perhaps PC language is itself oppressive, promoting intolerance and discouraging spontaneity and inventiveness. But the best way to tackle a serious matter is to show the funny side of the opposing sides. Here, the dialogue positively sparkles. With the benefit of a crisp and unfailingly witty script, the two actors perform an unflagging tour de force which won the admiration of the audience.
Do try and catch this show if it comes your way. You will relish the absurdities that it points up about where the extremes of politically correct language are taking us. Don’t “no platform” it!