Democracy (Michael Frayn) – Sydney Theatre Company production at the Sydney Theatre

Before seeing Democracy, I knew as much about post-War German politics as I did about British Rail before seeing The Permanent Way. So I have absolutely no idea how accurate a portrayal it was of the personalities involved. However, it was a compelling piece of stagecraft, and regardless of whether or not they were true to life, the characters were interesting. It was quite strange to see a play with ten characters, all of them male.

By a fluke, this was the “Night with the Actors”, where after the performance the actors come back on stage and answer questions asked by any of the audience who have cared to stay for it. They said that the number of characters, the pace of the dialogue and the speed of exits and entrances made it almost like playing a farce – except, of course, that the subject matter was totally different.

Unfortunately, I didn’t quite get up the nerve to ask a question. I would have liked to know how Paul Goddard felt about his part. He played Arno Kretschmann (Guillaume’s Stasi controller), and he was onstage for almost the entire play, but spent most of it off to the side, observing the action. The only character he actually interacted with was Guillaume. I’d be curious to find out whether this makes it more or less draining as an actor. I’m inclined to think it would be more so – having to stay focussed the entire time, but mostly without dialogue to support engagement with the character.

It was a completely different sort of play from Copenhagen (the only other Michael Frayn play I have seen), but just as worthwhile a night at the theatre.

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