Kompromat is a new play written by David Thame and directed by award-winning Peter Darney at Vault Festival. Kompromat is a Russian word meaning compromising information collected for use in blackmailing, discrediting, or manipulating someone, typically for political purposes.
The play is inspired by the death of Gareth Williams in 2010. The GCHQ agent was found dead in his central London flat, his body zipped inside a large sports bag and placed in the bath. His killers, presumed to be Russian agents, were never found. Eight years later, intelligence experts linked the case with the nerve agent attack in Salisbury and cast new light on how Williams was murdered. It’s easy to see why Thame was inspired to bring this real life spy story to the stage.
This intriguing tale of deceit, denial and desire makes for a compelling hour as we watch a killer and his victim play out their final hours together. The audience needs to stay alert as the action moves between timelines, showing how and why the pair meet before the tragic tale plays out.
Max Rinehart plays Zac, a streetwise charmer, who tells his own story in asides to the audience as well as narrating his connection with Tom (Guy Warren-Thomas), the shy geeky newcomer finding his way in the London gay scene who we first meet already dead on his sofa.
Kompromat has some lighter moments and funny asides among the darker tale of murder and intrigue as Thame imagines what may have happened in the lead up to Tom’s death. We come to see that neither man is what he seems and even as the lights dim at the end there are plenty of questions unanswered.
Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans
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