The new David Hare political drama Roadkill proves to be the scariest thing about this year’s Hallowe’en, and not in a good way
“You can get away with anything if you just brazen it out”
Throwing in a cast like this can usually get me to forgive a lot but not even the combined thrills of Helen McCrory, Sylvestra Le Touzel, Sidse Babett Knudsen and Saskia Reeves could get me to like Roadkill. Maybe its the closeness of it all, Tory political corruption is headline news pretty much every day now, so why would we want it on our TV screens as drama as well.
Potential timing issues aside (though when are the Tories never out grasping for themselves…), there are more fundamental problems at play here though. David Hare’s writing feels particularly aimless here, there’s little sense of accretion in watching Hugh Laurie’s Teflon-coated minister Peter Laurence ride out any number of potential scandals, just a relentless, remorseless journey of scum rising to the top.
In some ways, it is almost exacerbated by just how good the supporting cast is and the commendable casting which has put many of these fine actresses in such key roles. Prime Minister McCrory, senior civil servant Le Touzel, prison governor Anna Francolini, newspaper proprietor Patricia Hodge… It’s just a shame that Roadkill’s main thesis is that Laurence can ride roughshod over them all.
Michael Keillor’s direction is too lethargic to inject any kind of urgency into the drama, there’s just so many plinky piano-filled interludes, and so the pace suffers terribly over its four hours. And Hare gives no real insight into the fast-moving world of contemporary politics, the use of social media and notions of popularism are just two areas left untouched. The result is something undoubtedly glossy but nothing you haven’t seen before.