YORK writer-director Tom Wilson’s new anarchic farce of council chaos and Covid, The Local Authority, will be premiered at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, from August 5 to 7.

“Written some 12 months ago, the play is basically about a local council emergency budget meeting,” says Tom. “It's very much a black comedy about embezzlement, chaotic dysfunctional individuals and families and a community trying to come to grips with the madness of the pandemic that engulfed us all.

“Look out for lots of adult themes, such as drug taking and alcoholism, zany sex workers, high-level council corruption, and irrational budget and public amenity cuts.

“Hopefully it will offer people a chance to purge themselves of the intensity that this virus has forced on us all. I’m hoping it will give folk the opportunity to laugh their way out of the doldrums.”

Tom had written one play, set to be premiered at the JoRo until Covid intervened, and then turned his thoughts instead to creating a rip-roaring comedy for our times in the tradition of Joe Orton. Cue The Local Authority.

What starts off as a local council emergency budget-cutting meeting on Zoom rapidly descends into an unstructured free-for-all and a chaotic mêlée.

“Eventually, it breaks out into a physical space on stage too,” says Tom. “The story is woven around manager Lesley Carol’s secretive drinking problem and very public fall from grace.

“After lurid revelations and catastrophic arguments, stories of embezzlement and financial corruption, historic accusations and shocking recriminations, it eventually offers hope for the future and redemption.”

The disintegrating council meeting serves to highlight the confusion and problems faced in the early stages of the Coronavirus pandemic, says Tom. “It shows the damaging misinformation and the scapegoating that was apparent within some circles.

“There are the failed experiments and the inappropriate language that was levelled in some quarters.”

This story is pertinent, suggests Tom, because 'we can all so easily forget how reluctant some of us were to believe what was actually happening and comply and do the right thing in order to help and support each other'.

“We forget how selfish and paranoid we can and have been around all this mayhem,” he says. “No-one wanted it, but it not only touched our lives, it pretty much brought our lives and societies to a standstill. Although some of the statements are preposterous and some of the characters are petulant and immature in The Local Authority, isn’t that what we all experienced at different times during this hideous hayride?”

At one point during the pandemic, Tom caught Covid himself . “I was in hospital myself having an operation and I inadvertently caught it,” he says.

“While lying in bed one night, after being despatched to the Covid ward, not being able to sleep through sheer fear, I saw people being discreetly inserted into body bags and removed. The next morning their bed and belongings had all mysteriously disappeared, as if by magic. There was no trace that they ever existed at all.”

Looking ahead, Tom predicts: “Once this is all over and the hordes and the masses return to their decadent revelry with much gusto, I’m sure a lot of the darkness and intensity will be minimised and eventually put on the back burners and forgotten.

“Let’s hope that tongue-in-cheek, light-and-shade plays like The Local Authority serve to remind us of our folly and our good fortune to still be here.”

Naloxone Theatre Ensemble presents Tom Wilson’s premiere of The Local Authority, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, August 5 to 7, 7.30pm and 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Box office: 01904 501935 or at josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.