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Review: A Theory of Justice, the Musical

POLITICAL philosophy may have made many cry of despair but seldom of laughter.

A Theory of Justice, the Musical, is an absurd, exorbitant and playful show which rediscovers the inconsistency, perversion and provocative nature of the great theories of governance and justice.

The poster for a Theory of Justice

The poster for a Theory of Justice

A revision joke written by Oxford students in 2013, which has gone “a little too far”, The Theory of Justice has been adapted by Act One in a performance which is the show’s Welsh premiere.

John Rawls, philosopher and professor at Harvard University, decides to articulate his own theory of justice in order to convince his students of the value of philosophy in the 20th century. His quest propels him into the past when he tries to rescue Fairness, a student and his muse, who falls into a time vortex.

The play is an epic journey of encounter with the great philosophers who influenced centuries of thoughts and discussions about the best way to establish a society. A candide

Rawls travels through time and learns from the mouths of the men, and women, he looks up to the most – none of whom have the wisdom to provide him with clear answers for his theory of justice.

Half way between a musical and a pantomime, A Theory of Justice, explains opaque political philosophy in cheeky dialogues, cheerful songs and sexy acting.

Socrates is a puppet, Hobbes is a rapper, Jean-Jacques Rousseau is womaniser, Immanuel Kant is a transvestite, Karl Marx, hidden behind a revolution of facial hair shouts from a high pitched voice about means of production and a Rawls seems more concerned with seducing fairness than finding the solution to the convoluted arguments of equality and freedom.

The well-written and hilarious script holds the play together and the simple rules of comedy of situation and gesture, brilliantly performed by the cast, made the audience swing their head over and fold themselves in half laughing.

Individual singing was a bit flimsy when reaching the higher notes, but this was counter-balanced by the power and nuances of the group singing and the enthusiasm radiating from everyone on stage.

The couple of villains, Robert Nozick and Ayn Rand, played by James Paine and Emily Broad, electrified the room with the intensity of their stage presence, the strength of their singing and their erotic tango which made eyeballs roll, in celebration of capitalism, individualism, and submission.

Well-rehearsed and with little gimmicks, The Theory of Justice is genuine, light-hearted and undeniably funny – a fantastic evening of entertainment If you have never cried over political theory, this might be the time – of laughter.

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