The Memorandum

Human moments stand out - but not enough to make this production come fully alive

Article by Alasdair Gillon | 16 Apr 2006
Theatre company Communicado target Britain's political culture of "spin" in their current tour, but unfortunately they don't squarely hit home. The Memorandum, a satire by Czech playwright Vaclav Havel on the political manipulation of language, deals with power-tripping bureaucrats who force their company to adopt an artificial language, Ptydepe. The managing director Josef Gross (played here by Gerry Mulgrew) can't stop them, and soon finds himself in the firing line, utterly bamboozled by his scheming, self-satisfied deputy, Ballas (Paul Morrow). Ballas, an expert in evasive office-speak, should be funny. But Morrow seems to rush, and he sprinkles emphasis so liberally that it distracts from his character's politicking. Grant O'Rourke and Paul Cunningham are more satisfying in supporting roles, totally believable as office staff even while they babble bureaucratic tosh. Human moments do stand out, like Gross's struggle to act resolutely and defend a victimised colleague – but not enough to make this production fully come alive. [Alasdair Gillon]
Traverse, Edinburgh, Feb 22-25.