25 June 2016 | l_rawjalaurence
Powerful Indictment of Britain's - specifically Tony Blair's - Decision to Go to War in Iraq
Reg Keys (Tim Roth) lives in a rural retreat in Wales with his wife Sally (Anna Maxwell Martin). Their two sons Tom and Richard (Elliott Tittensor) have both joined the army, for want of anything else to do in an economically deprived area. News filters through that Tom has been killed in Iraq; his body is flown home and he is given a funereal with full military honors.
As Reg tries to find out what precisely happened to his son, he discovers that there has been a severe dereliction of duty on the army's part. Major Bryn Parry Jones (Charlie Anson) admits that Tom had been left to fend for himself with only fifty rounds of ammunition and no radio, and thus did not stand a chance against the Iraqi army. Reg demands answers, and decided to go to straight to the top and talk to the then Prime Minister Tony Blair. Naturally he receives no response from an unhelpful aide (Andrew Readman), so Reg decides to stand for Parliament in Blair's constituency at the 2005 election as an independent as a means of drawing attention to his cause.
The structure of David Blair's drama is a familiar one, of the little man taking on the government and winning a Pyrrhic victory. Aided by his campaign team including manager Bob Clay (Ralph Brown), and celebrity allies Martin Bell (David Yelland), and Frederick Forsyth (Tim Bentinck), Reg undergoes something of a change of character, as he acquires both self-confidence and an unshakable resolve to tell his story in public. Roth is very good at suggesting this change; at the beginning he slouches, his head on one side in a quizzical pose, almost as if he does not want to speak. By the end of the drama he has learned how to stand up straight, fix his eyes on his audience - as well as Blair - and speak honestly yet passionately.
Although describing events taking place over a decade earlier, Jimmy McGovern and Robert Pugh's drama still packs a punch, as it depicts the ways in which politicians willfully refuse to listen to the people, preferring instead to follow their self-interested desires for a place in history. This is precisely what Blair did, as he had the chance to speak at the US Congress (only the third British politician to do so since 1945), but at the same time took absolutely no notice of Reg. Sometimes politicians need to be reminded (often in a direct way) that it is the people who elect them, and that they should be listened to in a democratic society.
REG is an angry drama, that does not shy away from describing the destructive effect Reg's cause has on his family (Sally ends up drinking too much and being rushed to hospital), but suggests at the same time that taking a stand is absolutely necessary as a means of bringing truth to light.