Head of State, VAULT Festival


By Zahid Fayyaz

Given the state of our current world leaders, this play is certainly a timely one to put on. It follows Mo, the newly elected Head of State of Nechora – a country so tiny, it’s literally not even on the map. Due to the seemingly insignificant size of his country, the congratulatory phone calls from the world leaders turn into impromptu therapy sessions, and Mo is suddenly privy to the thoughts and secrets of some of the world’s most powerful people. He hopes he can use this access to help his country, but things start going wrong.

The play is a two-hander with one actor playing Mo throughout, and the other playing his chief of staff and a revolving list of world leaders, armed only with a change of headwear and jacket. The performances from both have wonderful energy, and at times, hilarious. There is a high percentage of Ariana Grande dance moves in between the various telephone conversations; as someone who is Grande ambivalent, some of it is a little outside of my personal taste, but the crowd certainly seems to enjoy these particular segments. Some of the writing unfortunately lags behind the performances, with some over-earnestness and underwhelming plot devices. However, it is very well-paced, with any given moment never far away from a genuinely hilarious joke. It also ends with a genuinely surprising technical coup, and genuine heart help to move it along.

The remaining shows for this run have unfortunately sold out, but it’s recommended for whenever and wherever it resurfaces. It needs a little tightening up, but it will certainly be interesting to see whether it adapts to reflect the ongoing changes in political circumstance.

Head of State runs through 6 February.

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