The Schuman Plan
The Schuman Plan premiered at Hampstead Theatre, London, in February 2006.
In the wake of World War II, Robert Schuman, the French Foreign Minister, puts his name to a plan for the economic unification of Europe in the hope of facilitating permanent peace.
Tim Luscombe’s vibrant new play tells the extraordinary story of Bill Bretherton, a passionate British Europhile who was inspired by the man who conceived the plan. Yet Bill’s idealism is constantly challenged by burgeoning European agencies and the colourful personalities he meets – back-stabbing politicians, volatile Suffolk fishermen, fraudulent Sicilian Mafiosi, his old pal Teddy Heath and a girl from the Ministry whom he loves to the end.
The Schuman Plan is a celebration of the political altruism behind the European ideal and a challenging look at what it has become. Fifty years on, what would Schuman make of Europe today?
The play moves deftly through the history of post-war Britain, via the story of Bill, constantly rooting itself in the ordinary lives of its citizens, showing how the personal is almost always political, and vice versa.
Nothing that Luscombe has produced before quite prepares us for his latest play, The Schuman Plan. Though it’s often sharply funny, there’s nothing frivolous about this piece.
Spanning 70 years, from the Thirties to the present day, the play is an intelligent and intricate attempt to explore the contradictions and shifts in our response to the European Ideal.
Ambition is obviously Tim Luscombe’s middle name. It is exhilarating to see Hampstead on such aspirational form. The Schuman Plan raises the crucial question: is it possible to create a non-didactic political play if the politics do not directly involve life or death.
[The Schuman Plan] offers a detailed, intricate look at shifting attitudes to the European dream. It is invigorating to hear a public stage being used to debate a crucial issue. Fascinating stuff. You can’t accuse Luscombe of failing to grapple with big issues.