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  • Articles by Mary

    Committee a Musical at the Donmar Theatre

    Committee A Musical is the Donmar’s new play based on a Parliamentary Inquiry into the high profile childrens charity Kids Company. 

    Committee A Musical is the Donmar’s new play based on a Parliamentary Inquiry into the high profile childrens charity Kids Company.  The government, having  poured £46 million into the charity, are belatedly attempting to hold the Kids Company founder and CEO Camila  Batmanghelidjh and Chair of Trustees Alan Yentob accountable.  What results is an almost total failure to communicate which the Donmar has courageously set to music.  


    The play begins with the arrival of the committee. Parlimentary heavyweights such as Kate Hoey and David Davis take their places in a semicircle while the audience are given brief biographies. Batmanghelidgh and Yentob are seated with their backs to the audience, their faces projected onto screens where we can see every twitch.  The committee spokeperson reassures us that the committee is "here to learn, here to learn" a refrain repeated musically by all committee members.


    As the questioning begins the difficulties emerge.  The committee wants to know about numbers, how money was spent, how many children were helped, how many thousands of pounds were given to whom and why.  Batmanghelidjh and Yentob want to focus on the government’s failure to support "vulnerable children and young people" and to present detailed stories of individual children left to suffer by the state.  When the committee asks about results and decision making Batmanghelidgh and Yentob claim superior clinical experience and expertese.  They offer the good opinions and support of celebrities and senior politicians as evidence of the worthiness of the organisation. The committee sees this as name dropping and psychobabble and it makes the charity seem ever more devious.


    The music, which is not particularly tuneful, works best when the committee are in choral mode, a unified confrontation verging on bullying.  The arias from Batmanghelidjh and Yentob are less compelling. The individual performances are strong and Sandra Marvin as Batmanghelidgh caries just the right amount of arrogance and confidence.


    The play is an entertaining 80 minutes but the big question is how on earth did we get here?

    How did personal relationships become a substitute for accountabilty? How did the the emotional impact of vulnerable children lead to the acceptance of poor governance and the massive waste of public money? 


    The Donmar doesn't tell us. They don't label either side as responsible. But they do make us want to know.


    Until 12 August