The Choice is a political drama that explores the process of political decision-making. The premise is as simple as it is powerful, the leader of a nation needs to make a crucial decision: Our Steve, a man working on a humanitarian mission, has been kidnapped by a group of terrorists who demand a ransom for his release. The Leader must decide whether he negotiates for Our Steve’s release or leave him to die in the hands of his captors.
The story focuses on the backstage arena of politics, where political leaders are revealed as vulnerable human beings. This is in stark contrast to the public space where leaders are often perceived as unemotional puppets who cloak themselves under a mask of cynicism. The Choice explores this human side of politics, introducing the complexities of the political process, as well as portraying the dedication and personal sacrifice many leaders have to endure.
The story maintains a fast pace combining a bleak tone with sharp dialogue in the tradition of other political satires like The Thick of it. At the same time, it presents deep and serious drama portraying memorable characters as in the classic American drama Advise and Consent . Perhaps most importantly however; The Choice delves into philosophical ideas and values regarding the decision making process. It presents the conceptual clash existing between what should be done in an ideal world, and what can be done realistically.
What is the right thing to do when presented with only bad options? Right at the beginning a solution is offered. “Leaders need to understand loss.” This is what Our Steve’s Wife uses as a reason for The Leader to negotiate and save her husband. The implications here: that politicians need to prioritise the safety of their citizens over and above everything else. Political practices need to take people into consideration and leave aside agendas, bureaucracy and political strategy.
The leader himself suffered loss and his own wife constantly reminds him of that trauma. They promised to make a difference, to govern in a better way. This is the strategy that The Leader attempts to use to face the situation. He wants to save The People’s Hero and therefore make a difference, a difference for the sake of common people.
But The Advisor, a Machiavellian character who represents the power in the shadow, puts The Leader in his place, reminding him of his duties and responsibilities. He is not meant to ease the agony of the families, or to govern according to his “touchy Nescafe feelings” , or following his humanistic views. Leaders “marry power not people” and must rule according to the interests of the nation and most importantly, they govern for those who keep them in power. The message is devastating, but extremely realistic at the same time. Politicians willing to look towards truth and govern by abiding by the very human dimension of emotion and attachment are not meant to be leaders.
The Choice it’s a compelling drama about decisions in the field of politics. Thanks to its outstanding dialogue coupled with a subtle mix of dramatic tension and black humour, this script is a joy to read and it will be captivating to watch this Sunday at Screen Rebels Showcase.
Essay by Adrian Bellido