THE RAGGED TROUSERED PHILANTHROPISTS
adapted by Neil Gore from Stephen Lowe’s play based on the novel by Robert Tressell.
CLF Art Café The Bussey Building 133 Rye Lane Peckham SE15 4SJ To 31 October 2015.
Runs 2hr One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7732 5275.
Review: William Russell 10 October.
Workers of the world forcefully unite: both of them.
This version by Neil Gore of Stephen Lowe’s play based on Robert Tressell’s famous book about the conditions of the working classes in the building trade in pre-Great War Britain is agit prop theatre at its very best.
Tressell’s book is a classic socialist text, and Gore has taken Lowe’s play based on it (originally performed by Joint Stock some forty years ago) and turned it into a two-hander in which he and Jonathan Markwood play all the parts.
It is a dazzling display of virtuosity by both actors, but the evening is far more than as a show case for their skills. It is a terrific piece of apparently, although actually not, improvised theatre.
The play makes the case against capitalism and the exploitation of the working men lucidly and exposes with considerable power how the treatment they endure at the hands of those who pay their wages affects them as human beings.
It is, however, no tub-thumping tract for those who believe, but a very funny, thought-provoking and contentious piece of drama for everyone. Today’s posh boy politicians who talk about doing the right things for “hard working people” should visit the Bussey Building and ponder. But they won’t.
There is audience participation, songs to sing, a terrific puppet show and a glorious demonstration of the Money Game which shows how capitalism gives to, and then takes back from, the workers.
The evening also confronts the audience with a choice. Where should socialism go? It may be the answer to society’s ills, but is it down a democratic or revolutionary path?
It adds up to a thoroughly exciting piece of theatre, not just a rousing political polemic based on days gone by. Society has changed, but the ills capitalism can inflict persist, and the play remains a play for today.
Boss Crass/Harlow/Will Easton/Sawkins/Mr Rushton/Mr Didlum: Neil Gore.
Frank Owen/Joe Phillpot/Jack Linden/Mayor Sweater/Mrs Sweater: Jonathan Markwood.
Director: Louise Townsend.
Designer: Fine Time Fontayne.
Musical Director: John Kirkpatrick.