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It probably helps, initially at least, to know something of the history behind Michael Frayn’s fact-based 2003 award winning drama set in the period immediately following the election of SPD leader, Willy Brandt, to the post of Chancellor in 1969.

The stage is filled with men in suits – each with their own political agenda - but attention soon focusses on Aidan McArdle’s shock-haired Günter Guillaume, a Stasi infiltrator who, by dint of making himself indispensable and always ready to help, manoeuvres his way up from insignificant junior aide to personal assistant to Patrick Drury’s charismatic Brandt as he works towards the unification of East and West Germany.

From then on, this intelligent and witty revival makes fascinating viewing as coalition power struggles take place behind the scenes and the relationship between the spy and the man he’s betraying become increasingly friendly - with Guillaume growing in admiration for the womanising leader who, for his part, eventually comes to regret that he didn’t trust his initial instincts and turf him out long before he insinuated his way into his personal and political world.

Old Vic, The Cut, SE1 8NB
Tube | Waterloo
Until 28th July | £10.00- £45.00
oldvictheatre.com


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Theatre review: Democracy, The Old Vic
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