Anne Reid stars as a reluctant activist, but the plum role goes to the fracking company’s ‘horribly recognisable’ PR man
Outside the Minerva, a woman from the Chichester and Bognor Green party hands out leaflets about fracking. Inside, Alistair Beaton’s new play, Fracked!, gives an efficient, adversarial account of what happens when gas and oil are mechanically extracted from shale. It also speaks up for direct action. Chichester, which used to be considered a byword for theatrical staidness, is being stirred.
Still, this is a long way from the Sussex subversion threatened 14 years ago when, in the character of Anthony Blunt, Corin Redgrave turned to the audience and urged them to sing the Internationale. Fracking is not really a party political issue: its opponents include those worried more by property prices than environmental considerations. And though Beaton’s nimble comedy is outspoken, it slips down as easily as a sitcom. It is a good vehicle for putting across arguments, and is smoothly oiled by director Richard Wilson. But it is without a subtext. It lands its points but it has no depth charge.