Committee is a musicalisation of the Public Administration & Constitutional Affairs Committee Takes Oral Evidence on Whitehall’s Relationship with Kid’s Company. So not the most natural subject for a musical. However, Tom Deering’s music along with Hadley Fraser & Josie Rourke’s book & lyrics from the transcripts of the sessions make it really work.
The collapse of Kid’s Company was a real surprise to any one who had come across Camila Batmanghelidjh, who seemed completely committed to changing the lives of vulnerable young people. However, the financial mismanagement at the heart of the company’s decline and its close relationship with government threw Batmanghelidjh and her Chair of Trustees in front of the committee and the media.
Josie Rourke and Hadley Fraser are good at weaving testimonies both from Batmaghelidjh and Yentob, in with those who were supportive of Kid’s Company those who were not. Rather than come down firmly on one side or the other, they allow you as the audience to grapple with the facts.
This is helped by a really great ensemble of performances. Alexander Hanson as Bernard Jenkin MP, the Chair of the Committee, is great as a slightly smarmy, slightly patronizing career politician (weirdly, Jenkin himself reviewed the show for Politics Home); and Rosemary Ashe chews up all the scenery as Kate Hoey MP. When it comes to the two who are being questioned, Omar Ebrahim as Alan Yentob is eerily reminiscent of the man himself, and has a powerhouse of a voice. As Batmaghelidjh, Sandra Marvin not only sings gloriously, she is great at showing her resolute belief that Kid’s Company always did the right thing.
Whilst Committee isn’t a musical that will have you leaving the theatre whistling the tunes, it does leave you wondering whether the enduring lessons of the collapse of Kid’s Company should be focusing on the soundbites (£73,000 given to one individual; a pair of £150 shoes given to another), or the underlying problem of thousands of vulnerable children which will not simply go away.