The Majority review: The National Theatre's interactive new play leaves the action up to a majority audience vote

Melissa York
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The Majority

National Theatre audiences are largely white, metropolitan liberals. We proved it within the first 10 minutes of this new interactive play in which the action is determined by a majority audience vote.

When I visited, we were 90 per cent liberal, 91 per cent white, 91 per cent Remainers and 48 to 52 per cent male to female. I hoped for more surprising revelations about my fellow theatregoers, but that was about as scandalous as it got.

The motions were devised by comedian Rob Drummond, a self-confessed apolitical Scot who didn’t vote in the Scottish Independence Referendum. He says he tried to make up for it by latching onto a bee-keeping conspiracy-touting socialist in the months afterwards, to learn how he could ‘make a difference.’

But with its cheesy countdown jingles and flashing studio lights, The Majority is like being trapped in an ITV gameshow where everyone loses. A bit like The Chase, then.

Drummond is our puffed-up quizmaster, interjecting his tale with moral dilemmas and changing small parts of the act accordingly. Shall we let these latecomers in? Yes. Should we allow this man a toilet break? No. Shall I open this letter? No. Has voter fatigue set in yet? Absolutely.

When the motions are oversimplified – “This community believes in absolute freedom of speech” – the premise works because it demonstrates how nuanced debate is obliterated when complicated concepts are reduced to a binary choice. But towards the end of the performance, the wording became clumsy and loaded, and the audience began to respond petulantly, which is hardly surprising if you treat them like children.

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“Does it help anyone if you abuse them for holding a different point of view?“, Drummond asks, as if he’s our mother. “Well, it helps the person delivering the abuse,” an audience member replied.

There’s a reason why the Electoral Commission writes the questions for referendums.

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