Lawyers funding a play? It's a crime against theatre: Is The Invisible art - or adventure? asks QUENTIN LETTS

The Invisible (Bush Theatre)

Rating:

 Verdict: Art of advertorial?

State subsidies for the arts exist, in part, to protect artistic truth. They help to free theatres from commercial constraints. That, the theory goes, creates a more honest art form.

West London’s Bush Theatre, buttressed by the Arts Council, has opened a play ‘kindly sponsored by’ the Law Society — the lawyers’ trade union. The show, by Rebecca Lenkiewicz, is called The Invisible and it is about legal aid lawyers.

Given the sponsors, you may not be surprised to learn that it is highly sympathetic to such lawyers.

Misguided: Niall Buggy (Shaun) and Alexandra Gilbreath (Gail) in The Invisible by Rebecca Lenkiewicz

Misguided: Niall Buggy (Shaun) and Alexandra Gilbreath (Gail) in The Invisible by Rebecca Lenkiewicz

Tory Justice Secretaries Chris Grayling and Michael Gove are abused in sub-undergraduate terms.

The show attacks ‘the bedroom tax’ and contains a juvenile passage in which a 70-something Irish expat (Niall Buggy) claims that when he was growing up, ‘the poor’ were seen as ‘unfortunates’ and given ‘alms’, but are now ‘kicked like dogs’ by the British system.

Does Miss Lenkiewicz make such silly claims because she believes them, or because she was leaning towards her ‘kind sponsors’? Is this play an attempt at the truth, or does it have all the integrity of an ‘advertorial’ on the motoring pages of a local newspaper?

Tory Justice Secretaries Chris Grayling and Michael Gove are abused in sub-undergraduate terms
Tory Justice Secretaries Chris Grayling and Michael Gove are abused in sub-undergraduate terms

Tory Justice Secretaries Chris Grayling and Michael Gove are abused in sub-undergraduate terms

The pity about this is that there are good performances from Alexandra Gilbreath as a solicitor and Sirine Saba, who doubles as a legal clerk and a battered Asian wife.

The Bush, in taking the Law Society’s cash, has crossed a line. Imagine if a life-sciences lab sponsored a pro-vivisection play at the Royal Court?

Westminster’s culture select committee may want to address some of the principles imperilled by this foolish venture.

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