Laurence Saunders as Michael Makerson MP with a speech that is decided by the snooping audience. Pictures: Graeme Braidwood

A Moment of Madness

Birmingham Rep


In a performance where the setting is a car park and the audience sit predominately within the seats of a Ford Fiesta, director Katie Day and The Other Way Works create A Moment of Madness as part of the Flatpack Festival.

It is immersive theatre at its best, where the audience actively lead the plot, to the point where it is entirely up to them on how the production ends.

We are first divided into teams of four and are taken into a conference room. There are sheets of information on our tables which we are told to read, we then learn that the background of the characters we will later see.

MP Michael Makerson (Laurence Saunders) seems to be loved by the people because of his green air policies and commitment to saving the planet.

Lily (Deborah Tracey) then enters the room and we soon discover that she is the boss of MI5 and has appointed us the audience as secret operatives to discover secrets about Makerson and his past. Our mission is to go to the car park to collect all and any possible information about him to bring back to base.

Upon arrival to our new setting, the stake-out car carries classified documents as well as a phone where Lily keeps communication with us via text message. This gave a fantastic tailor-made experience as we had a direct communication response. It is here within the ‘mission’ where we see small scenes, such as Makerson meeting up with a secret lover and people dropping off suspected packages to various vehicles.


Deborah Tracey as the boss of MI5, the audience's handler 

Back at base, we are instructed by Lily to report back on what we had seen in our cars, knowing from a particular car park scene that a secret and illegal affair was being played out by the much-loved MP.

We are informed that Makerson will be briefed in two minutes time before making an important public speech, and within that moment, we must vote to decide his political future – will Makerson’s extra marital and illegal private life go unnoticed, thus saving the green energy plan without personal consequences, or will the information go public, leaving him to face the reality of past decisions.

This is the most exciting moment of the play, especially as we can see that actor Saunders himself has received the audience’s decision on the spot, before delivering the speech. From an audience’s view, the dynamics of the real time moments are pulsating.

Deborah Tracey as Lily is brilliant within her role. She guides the audience with an authoritative power and tone and plays greatly to the immersive nature of the production. She asks us questions about what we saw during our mission and praises us for being exemplary agents.

Equally, Laurence Saunders as Makerson is completely natural and totally captivating. It is a shame that we do not see more of him throughout the production, because his impassioned public speech at the end is a remarkable piece of fine acting.

It is as if the audience become actors too, as we are instructed to create a cover story should we be approached by security, our Ford Fiesta group took on the roles of agents with gusto, pretending to be lost on our way to Broad Street. The community cast were brilliant at delivering a hostile atmosphere, and one particular security guard even used GPS to find our pretend destination.

In the end, the audience chose personal consequences over the life of the planet, so we watched Saunders’ passionate plea about keeping private life separate from politics. Although a fun and immersive production, Day’s piece is also incredibly current.

It asks if one person’s ‘moment of madness’ justifies having to compromise the health of the planet, or should personal actions have consequences? The audience have the struggle of deciding between the positives for a greater good, or whether a person in a position of power should own up to their very serious actions of the past. To 06-05-19.

Elizabeth Halpin


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