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Ben Brown’s historically-based new play goes behind the scenes at Downing Street.

There in May 1940, the coalition War Cabinet (headed by a newly elected Winston Churchill) weighs up the pros and cons of involving Mussolini in brokering a peace settlement with Germany.

France is on the verge of surrender, British troops are stranded at Dunkirk and though both Labour leader (Clement Atlee) and deputy back Churchill’s proposal to fight on alone, his fellow Conservatives (Robert Demeger’s sombre ex-Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax) are in favour of appeasement.

The deliberations of these politicians - just five elder statesmen seated round a table and holding the fate of millions in their hands– makes for static theatre, especially as the outcome is history.

But it’s engrossingnonetheless, thanks in no small measure to Warren Clarke’s convincing portrayal of the stubborn, cigar-smoking Churchill, all too aware of the enormous responsibility resting on his shoulders as he subtly out-manoeuvres Jeremy Clyde’s elegant Halifax to decide the future of Europe.

Trafalgar Studios 1, Whitehall, SW1A 2DY
0844 871 7632
Tube: Charing Cross
Until March 3 2012
£22.50-£45
atgtickets.com/trafalgarstudios

- Louise Kingsley


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Three Days in May, Trafalgar Studios
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