Theatre Critic and Journalist

Review: Tenet, Gate Theatre

Review: Tenet, Gate Theatre

Published in Time Out, 04.05.2012

A change of boss at the Gate Theatre has seen the good-looking toppled by the hard-thinking. Christopher Haydon’s inaugural season kicks off with Greyscale Theatre’s brilliant, dexterous examination of Julian Assange – a show that takes innovation as its subject.

Actually, it’s mostly about French mathematician Evariste Galois (Jon Foster), who died in 1832 aged 21. He showed that equations of a certain complexity can’t be solved by their roots – also known as radicals. We need a new system. Enter Assange (Lucy Ellinson).

Tenet mixes two radicals – political and mathematical – and it’s the best kind of brain-ache. You have to sprint to keep up, but the result is a complexity unrivalled on the London stage. It allows Assange to be both hero and villain and, at the same time, neither. Facing rape allegations in the play, he repeats, ‘No comment,’ operating by a different system. How is his rejection of judicial authority different from Anders Behring Breivik’s rejection of the same?

A patchwork of lecture, storytelling and participation, Lorne Campbell and Sandy Grierson’s text is mischievous with its complexities, gentle with its key points and direct in its call for reform. ‘Asking questions we know the answer to won’t change anything.’ Exactly.

Photograph: Iona Firouzabadi

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