A DAY AT THE RACISTS
by Anders Lustgarten.
Finborough Theatre above The Finborough Road Brasserie 118 Finborough Road SW10 9ED To 27 March 2010.
Tue-Sat 7.30pm Sun 3pm.
Runs 2hr 5min One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 847 1652 (24hr No booking fee).
www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk (reduced full-price tickets online).
Review: Timothy Ramsden 20 March.
A night of forceful political drama.
Telling the future’s tough for a playwright. In Anders Lustgarten’s wittily titled, and finely written, look at the English Far Right, the action – which extends over several days – looks to an election on May 6th, and refers back to last year’s Euro-elections. So far, so real. But while he was writing it the British National Party were in court being told they had to change their all-Whites membership policy. In life their response was to change the wording while achieving the same result.
But the play sees the leadership going for the new idea by adopting a British Asian as candidate for the kind of East London (OK, Barking and Dagenham, you aren’t actually named) seat where bleak and massive blocks of flats (which Mila Sanders’ design catches in their fearful symmetry) are represented by a complacent New Labour MP.
Ryan McBride’s intense production swirls around the Finborough stage to massive impact. That MP stands remote from her constituent, lifelong socialist activist Peter Case, now left in a post-industrial political vacuum from which he’s easily swept up, to his own incredulity, by the BNP. They’re the party that understands his needs, and provides practical help.
Julian Littman’s Peter is fierce, and fiercely principled. If the Asian BNP candidate who’s restyled herself Gina – wait for it – White (Thusitha Javasundera, strong-willed, business-suited and with gritty northern vowels) recalls Michael Hastings’ 1979 solo play Full Frontal, about a Black man wanting to join the National Front, street-fighting predecessor to the BNP, Lustgarten’s play is overall son to David Edgar’s 1976 Destiny. And as it sweeps through violence and tactics, racist and anti-immigration attitudes, it’s one of very few plays to approach Edgar’s power of political analysis.
Which he incorporates with a similar skill of dramatic momentum, and more independent characters. Peter’s case parallels his son, whose developing relationship with a Black teacher alternately throttles and sputters, but has more long-term hope than his dad’s political and personal seduction.
With a cast that’s consistently alert, precise and truthful, Rogue State Theatre Company’s Finborough production grips both as story and report from today’s political battle-lines.
Peter Case: Julian Littman.
Driver/Tony McDonald: Gwilym Lord.
Polish Lady/Labour MP/Housewife/Journalist: Vanessa Havell.
Burka Woman 1/Gina White: Thusitha Jayasundera.
Burka Woman 2/Zenobia: Zaraah Abrahams.
African Guy/Clinton Jones: Trevor A Toussaint.
Mark Case: Sam Swainsbury.
Rick Coleman: Nick Holder.
Director: Ryan McBryde.
Designer: Mila Sanders.
Lighting: Dan Hill.
Sound: George Dennis.