Committee at the Donmar Warehouse review neither Yentob nor Batmanghelidjh come out

first_imgYou might ask: why? A musical based on transcripts from a hearing of Parliament’s Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs committee about the collapse of government-funded charity Kids Company. Then again, why not? The National Theatre’s London Road, a verbatim piece about the Ipswich prostitute murders, confirmed that you can make a musical out of practically anything.And while Committee isn’t exactly Bat out of Hell in the musical spectacular stakes, like James Graham’s play This House it persuasively suggests that the inner workings of democracy contain an inherent theatricality.Josie Rourke, who co-wrote the book, has hit on a subject that is all the more resonant in the wake of Grenfell Tower.The collapse of Kids Company, led by Camila Batmanghelidjh, whose compassion for the children she helped during 20 years shines as bright as her wardrobe, is a story of scandalous financial mismanagement. But it’s also one that questions who is accountable for society’s most vulnerable and the extent to which government repeatedly fails to grasp the reality of impoverished children’s lives. Yet neither Yentob nor Batmanghelidjh come out well. Yentob, played by Omar Ebrahim with an air of lofty feyness, approaches (rather than answers) questions as though they are beneath him. Accounting at the charity was so relaxed that children were regularly handed unknown quantities of cash in brown envelopes. Forget magic money trees: Ebrahim’s Yentob seems to assume money would fall from government coffers like manna from heaven. But the schism in sympathy between the committee and the charity, two bodies on such different wavelengths they constantly query each other’s questions and answers, also gets to the heart of the matter. Batmanghelidjh may come across as a vague and irresponsible figure, but there’s no question her unorthodox approach transformed lives.Tom Deering’s score adds dramatic flourish but never persuades you the show needs to be a musical. Yet this is still a fascinating piece of theatre. You leave wondering just who is looking after all the kids in Kids Company now.Until Aug 12. Tickets: 020 3282 3808; kids company, committee, donmar warehouse, review Batmanghelidjh and Yentob at the real select committee hearing on Oct 15 2015  In a bland, corporate room in Westminster, Batmanghelidjh and Alan Yentob, who was chair of the trustees, sit before a select committee led by Bernard Jenkin, portrayed as chauvinistic and self-satisfied. Against the swell of an elegantly sparring score, the committee persistently rises up to insist they only want to “learn” what happened. They appear more like a chorus of ghoulish inquisitors than open-minded public servants.last_img

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