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What’s the ingredient list for making a conservative politician? How many party lines and handshakes are involved? Being a politician is perhaps one of the toughest pieces of performance art: it’s intense and it’s 24/7.

A Prudent Man is words and actions we’ve all witnessed. The slippery slope between impassioned conviction and crime. Spurting the vitriolic party lines so often they begin to believe them. Oh, the politicians who have said these things, desperately trying to emulate their idols. The smarmy grins and slogans.

A Prudent Man is a fixer. He fixes things. He stands up and stretches and puts on his tracksuit and avoids stuttering and sweating because those things don’t build trust like his smile and damp handshake. His superiority is created from a broken home but a supportive family with too many expectations and no pets.

A Prudent Man is moulded and controlled by the party machine. He begins thinking of the world as us and them, doing what is perceived as right and good, ensuring that “49.7 per cent – basically a majority – trust [you] to feed [their] cat while [they’re] away”. In A Prudent Man, the most unsettling point is when you see moments of politicians you know and recognise.

There’s a reason politicians are more or less all viewed in the same light. They’re created in the same moulds. Katy Warner seems acutely aware of this as she navigates the sameness of The Right Wing of politics. Fundamentally, politicians want to make the world a better place, or at least solidify their names in history.

A well-groomed, confident-looking man enters the room and sits on a comfortable and expensive-looking leather chair. A bright light shines on him. There’s water and a glass on a table, but that’s all. Perhaps this is an investigation. What has he done wrong?

Lyall Brooks’ mannerisms and stutters and body language are perfect.  His slightly-too-small, attempting-to-look-expensive suit and thin tie show how much of a puppet this politician is. Brooks is the perfect vessel for Warner’s informed and undeviating words and direction.

My heart broke a little bit as I realised my gasps of shock were due to déjà vu. We’ve heard and seen him before. This man is going through turmoil and can’t be man-handled: he has to rely on everything he knows – or has been told – is right and make his case that way. The perfectly formed words and behaviour he has learned as right is all he has in this moment. The desperation makes A Prudent Man cross into thriller territory.

In true political obscurity, A Prudent Man is 50 minutes of slightly confusing, unquestionably intriguing non-answers. It’s political speak at its best. Warner unapologetically explores those wired differently to her and doesn’t need the answer to why they think they’re right.

Katy Warner and Lyall Brooks are given the space to soar with Adam Fawcett producing through Lab Kelpie. This show is what happens when a small group of brilliant and creative people come together: they make something wonderful.

A Prudent Man is unfortunately and terrifyingly accurate. Those with interest or experience in politics will connect with A Prudent Man on another level from the ‘general population’, but it’s certainly profound and gripping viewing for all. You simply must see this shocking commentary on conservative politics.

A Prudent Man is a part of Melbourne Fringe Festival and is on at the Fringe Hub, Rehearsal Room until 1 October 2016.

 

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