A Prudent Man

26 September 2017, Spiegeltent
Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival

Like a political rally, Nickelback’s lyrics, “This is how you remind me of how I really am”, thunder over the speakers. A politician sits alone on the stage. A spotlight shining on his slick hair and tanned face. A forced smile stretched across his face. Lyall Brook’s political leader channels the essence of Trump, and has parallels with several homegrown politicians. A Prudent Man takes us inside the head of our politician, and it’s not a very comforting journey.

It’s an intense performance from Brooks. Alone on stage under the spotlight, he spouts political cliche after political cliche, coined phrase after coined phrase. This is the cement that holds his stream of consciousness together. These throwaway political catchphrases are intertwined with “off-script” recollections, asides and opinions that reveal his true nature. There are obvious parallels with that American president, but this is more than a parody; the difficulties he has in holding himself together and his struggles to remain “on script” and constantly be politically correct are at the centre of the performance. His off-script ramblings reveal a privileged, misogynist conservative, who has no respect for his wife, is totally disconnected from the GP (general public) and believes the world needs people to pick up rubbish, like he has, but not “literally”.

Cracks in the armour that his political catchphrases provide him emerge early on and gradually grow bigger and bigger. Brooks shows how he slowly unwinds and succumbs to his own true nature and is no longer able to hide behind the political mask.

It’s a pessimistic portrait of a modern politician, but one that feels uncomfortable real and horribly timely.

A Prudent Man is on again at the MTG, 29 September

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