Tuesday 21 November 2023

The Ayes Have It, The Ayes Have It - Review

Leicester Square Theatre, London


Directed by Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh

Alex Salmond, John Bercow and David Davis in Edinburgh

Transferring to London from the Edinburgh Fringe for one night only The Ayes Have It, The Ayes Have It is probably best described as the mother of all parliaments' bastard child. 

Director and producer Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh assembled a line-up of politicians and pundits to debate the motion “Brexit has been a disaster and now must be reversed” with the venerable Alex Salmond leading the proponents against David Davis’ team opposing.

Amidst what can only be described as a partisan audience - hardly surprising for a show staged in London’s city centre, the capital being fairly described on the night by opposer and broadcaster Mike Graham as “the 27th star on the EU flag” - the discussions were feisty, but served well in what a cross-panel consensus broadly agreed was the importance of taking debate outside of the confines of Westminster.

It spoke much for the flaws of the proposing team - that also included Gina Miller and Andrew Marr - that no serving parliamentarians could be found to support the motion. Baroness Claire Fox proved an eloquent and above all informed opposer, able to cite not only facts, but also argue powerfully that the Rejoin camp is populated largely by those with a “misty-eyed view of the EU” matched only by “their self-loathing of the UK”.

John Bercow chaired the proceedings from an uncharacteristically unbiased perspective, with the whole gig being enhanced by two spirited contributions on either side of the motion from Cora and Dominic, two sixth-formers from the Chestnut Grove Academy. A curious interjection post-interval came from talented impressionist Lewis MacLeod. Whilst his vocals were spot on, MacLeod's content was a tad trite.

The Ayes were always going to have it in a Leicester Square venue. But who knows? Perhaps if Sheikh’s show is taken on the road the evening’s outcomes may be different.

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